Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Herbert Henry Harris diary, 23 December 1915-4 December 1916
Herbert Henry Harris, a lift controller with Grace Bros department store in Sydney, enlisted on 11 August 1915 at the age of 42, and served with the 55th Battalion, AIF, in France and Belgium. He was promoted to corporal in the Military Police on 1 September 1917 and returned to Australia on 8 April 1919.
This diary is written in a printed diary covering the six-month period July to December 1915. It includes entries for both 1915 and 1916. The 1915 entries correspond to the period from 6 September to 31 December 1915 and a brief mention of 1 January 1916 (pages 44 to 64, 79 to 101), and are written under the relevant printed date. The 1916 entries cover the period 20 January 1916 to 6 December 1916 (pages 12 to 99) under handwritten dates.
The 1915 diary covers Herbert Harris’ time in camp in Sydney after enlistment, the death of his mother, his visits home while he is in camp, his departure, and the early part of his voyage to Egypt on HMAT Suevic, including the finding of a “girl stowaway" on the vessel (page 97). The 1915 diary ends on January 1 1916 somewhere in the Indian Ocean en route for Egypt.
The 1916 diary covers his time in Egypt and then France. He writes of the troops’ shock at news of Lord Kitchener’s death (8 June 1916) and describes a memorial service for him in Egypt (pages 21-22). In July 1916, about to move into the trenches in northern France, he writes farewell messages to his family in case he should not survive, and describes the horror of the Battle of Fromelles, where he saw action for the first time (pages 39-50), and its aftermath (pages 51-57). The 1916 diary ends on 6 December 1916 with Herbert Harris in the trenches on the Somme.
Throughout the diary there are details of soldiers’ kit, food, pay, conditions in the trenches, and the weather. Herbert Harris writes about his sometimes difficult relationship with his wife Nell, and the letters to and from Nell and their three sons, Tony, Jack and Carol. He also writes often about his brother Viv (Vivian Glen Harris #3076) who enlisted on the same day, and with whom he was very close. The brothers served together in the 55th Battalion although Vivian Harris was plagued by illness and spent much of his time in hospital.
For ease of reading, where there are entries for both 1915 and 1916 on a double page of the original, these entries have been grouped by year in the transcription, with the entries for 1915 above those for 1916, and marked [1915 entries] or [1916 entries], as appropriate.
In addition, some line breaks have been introduced to improve readability. Handwritten dates have been transcribed. Where a date is repeated at the beginning of the right-hand page of a double-page spread but the entry for that day is a continuation from the left-hand page, the handwritten date has generally not been transcribed; where an entry for a particular date continues over several pages (as happens quite frequently for 1916 entries), this is indicated by the note [continued] after the handwritten date.]
[Pages 1-9 not transcribed]
Please send this diary to my wife
Mrs H H Harris 183 Walker St
Redfern, Sydney, N. S. Wales. Aust
H H Harris
183 Walker St
Pvt H H Harris
183 Walker St
New South Wales
June 18/16 14576
Sept. 11/16 909.
No 6 Platoon
Spec Tramway Cap
[Bracketing the above:] Now 55th Batallion AIF
Please send this Diary to my wife Mrs H H Harris
183 Walker St
[Transcriber’s note: Two items at the bottom of the left-hand side of this page and all of the notes on the right-hand side – mostly relating to cost of items and other money-related calculations – are crossed out. Not transcribed; see original for details.]
Bannock Light Horse
Italian War [indecipherable] 200 lost.
Monday. 6 am. to 10 a.m.
Tuesday. 6. p.m. to 10 p.m. & 10 a.m. to 12
Wednesday 2 p.m. to 10 pm.
Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday 6 am to 10 am
Saturday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m
Sunday 2. pm to 6 pm
Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday 6. a.m. to 10 a.m.
Wednesday 6 pm to 10 pm
Arrived Suez 20 Jany
[Arrived] Heliopolis 21 [Jany]
[Arrived] Tel-el-Kebir 16 Feb
1st Holiday to Cairo 14 March
Troops left Tel-el-Kebir Monday 27 March
left on Guard with 3 others till April 12th
still here Apl 8th getting damndly monotonous might not get back to our Batallion now
wrote Nell last Sunday 2nd Mrs Parsons 8th Nell 8th Viv 8th
at Ferry’s Post
left Tel-el-Kebir for Ferry’s Post Apl 13th
Ismailia very pretty place
went into it as Policeman on Apl 24th & brought out a Prisoner
We are now guarding part of the Suez Canal & the best thing about it is the occasional swim & the worst is the food & sand
The men are always hungry & don’t get
enough to keep a ten year old Boy growing, cant even buy anything Canteens (2) out of things the same day they arrive have been here two weeks & could only get 1 lb biscuits & 1 Tin of Syrup in all that time unless we get away from here or better food (that is in quantity) is supplied there is likely to be Trouble.
Have taken on the Military Police Business feet wont stand the heavy marching through the sand, can’t see what good it is doing on empty stomaches, only making the men stale. An old saying says the Law is an hass, what about the military.
Have written to wife Apl 26th am writing to Jack Apl 28th Posted 29th
Fancy we leave here for Moasker on Wednesday anywhere out of this place would be welcome expect we go to France in about 3 weeks now & then for it.
Sunday Apl 30/16
wonder what this day next year will be like, if I shall be among the living or dead, & if living, where & will the war be over. I wonder how many are thinking the same thing
Genr Erving left us yesterday to take up another Post Promotion I think. Genr Paul takes his place
Had a bad time last night something wrong with my stomache Retching & Purging all night & feeling very weak & any how this morning
have just come off duty 10 a.m Tuesday got News of Genr Townsend’s surrender with 8,900 Troops Bad business but could not be helped I suppose.
Rumours last night that Verdun had fallen (Rats) expect to leave here in about 2 weeks for Moaska.
Wednesday. feeling much better little mary getting alright again
had first meal at dinner time since Monday. no news wrote to Tony & Carol
Thursday Apl 4th
am feeling alright again
nothing exciting to say
going out to Trenches on Monday then Moaska then France
wrote to Nell, Lucy, Tony, Jack & Carol also Mrs Parsons
expect to leave here on Thursday for France or England at last the day is drawing near I wonder if I shall come out of it alright have a sort of feeling I wont.
fearfully hot and only 8 a.m thank goodness we are leaving this
Ferry’s Post. Thursday 11/5/16.
still here & likely to be Turks are supposed to be advancing on us about 40,000 of them guess they will wish they hadn’t. quite ready for them, expect to go out to Trenches at any time now, goodness knows when we shall get to France now
Writing to Nell but do not know when I shall post it. no letter from Syd yet over 5 months now since I left.
[At top of right-hand page:] May 1916
Still here at Ferrys Post no one knows when we leave rumour says next tuesday.
nothing of any importance altho one can hear the guns miles away same yesterday morning
wrote & posted letter to Nell & Jack
heat Terrific Hot wind blowing nothing but dust & Flies
may go out to Trenches tomorrow, out of the kettle into the fire.
most of our fellows on fatigue work poor devils. one crowd forced to appear religious & cursing it the other forced to work & cursing that, all curse & little to eat. So we keep up sunday & there are people who say that there is a religious feeling amongst the troop; they should visit us to day.
up at 3. a.m. full marching orders to Trenches about 10 or 12 miles away most awful trip dust & heat almost unbearable 115° in Cairo 130 in the sheds we left must have been 150 in the desert.
stopped at Hog’s Back or Ridge the others went on to the Trenches in the evening we were left behind as water-guard, The most important thing is water. nearly all famished when we got here, quite satisfied to be left behind.
No duty all day together the four of us but got our rest at night & plenty to eat at last this will do me, ought to pull myself together here.
Still here at the same old regime every day, cleaning up sheds & surmising how long it will be now before leaving for France, rumours by the thousand flying round
No change, canteen only 100 yds away but it gets none of my few Piastres
Sunday & no church
wonder how the Boys like the Trenches this will do me
no change to speak about
Got orders to go to Trenches this afternoon, so had to pack up to get away
left at 6 p.m. & got partially lost in the desert, but got to the Trenches at last after walking 5 or 6 miles when it should have been about 2 ½ miles, had to sleep out with one Blanket couldn’t sleep for the cold theres climate for you, no wonder so many fall ill. & Flies “oh" [dash]
started our shooting right away this morning firing from Trenches through the wire entanglements got onto the target straight away if they all shoot as well a few of the enemy will go out.
Its a desolate place this Sphinx Post all sand hills, fellows getting full of seeing one another
Out shooting again this morning & did very well
getting starved here first two days had Tea & Bread & Jam (Marmalade) for BKs & dinner stew at night with lumps of fat in it all of us getting a bit weak on it
dont fancy the Turks will be fools enough to try & take these trenches havent got an earthly chance
Got letter from Syd & one from Mr Lockstone will answer them on the Boat no chance here with the flies etc
have to get out at 3.30 a.m. to stand by so got very little rest as you cant sleep in the day glad when we get out of this
Same old business up at 3.30 the day seems an awful long one nothing new
been going to go away for Moaska ever since we got here.
28/5/16 we are leaving here they say in two days time hope its true
29/5/16 leave here tomorrow for certain
Up at 3. a.m. & off Stopped at Hogs Back for 1 hour then with Band in front marched away leaving the Tommies in possession they are releiving us in Egypt.
altho a nice cool morning the hard road plays up with my feet & and I arrived dead Beat & feet nearly dropping off,
got here Ferry’s Post about 10 had to go on duty after till 2-30 then I got away for a swim in the canal & I wanted it, hadn’t had a wash for 8 days also shave so must have looked lovely, know I felt it,
did a bit of washing but feet very tired after it & glad to get down to it, but could not sleep too well too tired I suppose
curse these long marches in the desert, only doing the men harm
dont get enough to eat & work like bullocks, a horse has a much better time.
up at 5 & shaved feel a little cleaner now
getting fitted out here then off to Moaska on Friday morning, there 24 hours then off to Alexandria & the Boat & France.
Wrote to Nell last from Egypt
on duty till 10.
June 1st 1916
Batallion Parade 6. a.m to see if Kit all correct. Pack a devil of a weight.
down for a swim 8.
on duty 2 to 6.
no water & no Tea for Tea tonight all thirsty
Brigade inspection by Gen
MacayPaul. very well pleased with us
no more inspections thank heaven till France
think we are off Tomorrow, hope so,
Viv lent me 10 Piastres
on duty from 10 to 2 then off for swim,
No mail now for a fortnight & will not get any till we get to France, can’t send any more letters from here.
bit of a breeze to day.
from to day our Black bags dont belong to us & will be taken over & sent to base in Egypt from France.
have not been paid since 4th of May.
had a fine concert Brigadier there & enjoyed himself, very pleased with the 55th our Band won the contest & is now the Brigade Band
late night, did not get to bed till 11, generally there at 7.
All our fellows on divisional fatigue, Viv down at ordinance stores, some went away at 2 a.m all excited now, leave here on Sunday.
on duty 6 to 10.
devil of a day today up as usual 4.30 church parade 6.30 went for a swim myself After which had to fall in for inspection seems to be nothing else but inspection from someone or another nearly one o’clock when it finished,
Our Black bags are gone for good now and only a suit allowed in them all else has be carried in your Pack including Blanket & sheet. must be mistaking us for camels thank heaven it will soon be over,
on duty from 6 to 10 p.m.
up at 4.30 BKs 6. fall in for Rifle inspection & Roll call
going on Wednesday now, at least thats the latest
Rumours of big sea fight, been verified by Paper.
Hot as hell to day we are sitting about in the sheds sweating in every pore how the Tommies will stand this God only knows. must be 140 to day.
went for swim this morning but just as hot after.
on duty 2 to 6. p.m.
big concert to night West Indians & Welshmen taking part
the West Indians are Black as the ace of spades but speak splendid english, better than the majority of Australians & they possess manners giving our fellows an object lesson. They are very popular & they like the Australians more like the Americans they say.
Its simply scandalous the waste going on in our Army, when we left Tel-el-Kebir there were hundreds of pounds worth of clothing burnt also Ammunition thrown on the fires yet the men are not allowed too much shooting
owing to the cost of same Then again here the clothing burnt & given away to the Tommies must have run into hundreds of pounds if it was good enough for the Tommies it was good enough for us
All our private goods have gone also, things we have been carrying about for 9 months, showing that we need not have had a Kit Bag at all & only carried what was really necessary.
Concert great success, held as a welcome to the West Indians some of which sang,
much cooler this morning & we can do with it.
seems to be an idea that we do not leave here for some time yet & may get our pay tomorrow have not had any since May 4/16
to bed early, get very tired & hungry over here
on duty. 6. to 10. a.m.
rumour that a wireless plant has been found on Top of Shepherds Hotel Cairo & that the Big door Porter turns out to be an Austrian Officer, shouldn’t be surprised.
are stuck here for another 10 days the 8th can’t get away so they are delaying us. believe the year will be over before we get there.
The latest is we leave on Friday.
Just paid 50 Piastres instead of 200 which was due to me.
Swim, missed it yesterday for the first time.
The latest is we do not go for some time, what I said in Sydney & all along seems coming true, that is, that we shall never see the front & I do not think we shall
on special duty Brigdier Gen giving lecture to officers
Papers say Lord Kitcher drowned with all his Staff if True England has lost its greatest Englishman of present times, sincerely hope its not True
Swim this morning water lovely any amount of fish jumping out of the water wish I had a line.
No news as to when we are going.
Quite true about Kitchiner worse luck
on duty from 6 to 10 p.m.
on to day from 2 to 6 p.m.
nothing of any moment expect to go next week.
Reported that the Crown Prince little Willie & an Army Corps been captured by the French too good to be true.
Gypo Canteen opened a lot of fellows drunk & disorderly its this uncertainty about going that is getting on their nerves, ought to cut out wet canteens, our Sergeant had an exciting time of it, he dont seem popular but no one is who does his duty.
Sat. June 10/16.
this is the day we should have sailed but seem as long away as ever
the latest is that we leave here either Monday night or Tuesday morning for Moaska 48 hours there then on to Alexandria & embark on Sunday week we shall see how far wrong they are this time
On from 10 to 2
sports this afternoon but hellish hot already 7. a.m. it was 135 in the Hospital Tent a couple of days ago.
The desert is not one great plane of sand there are plenty of hills & valleys & some small scrub here & there, but its all alike for hundreds of miles, we are on the Sinai Peninsular the other side of the Canal
Wrote Nell & Syd & posted them
On duty from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Continuous Pretty stiff in this weather
no time to write
down for swim at 6 a.m. lovely, fish jumping in canal by the hundred wish I had hooks & line,
on duty to day 6 p.m.to 10 p.m.
Sargeant got dealt with on Saturday night Black eye & cut face, got assaliant in guard tent. tried this morning.
No one has any idea when we are going. Brigadier says not for some time yet so may be here for months yet.
Prisoner got 28 days 2nd Field Punishnt (Pvt Egan) used to work at Grace Bros carter.
Russians giving Austrians Hell.
Swim 7.30 as usual leaving here on Thursday for Moaska & darned good job to.
fearfully hot & windy.
Divisional sports at Moaska Tomorrow. Batallion do held here last Saturday, memorial service to Kitchener this evening
wrote to Jack, Loo, Mrs Parsons & Windred yesterday & posted them last letters from Ferry’s Post.
Service very impressive drum & side drums draped with crepe, Band & Bugles & drummers about 70 in all. All the Brigade there.
Enemy Aeroplanes Bombed Port Said & Serapia Camp to day dont know what damage also fought a small engagement at serapia.
Jam 1/3 Milk 10d Biscuits 1/ ½ Lemonade 5d. Tea 11 ¾
Quiet day, divisional sports at Moaska but only a few allowed to go owing to the Turks being about,
had swim this afternoon, very hot & dusty,
off on Friday morning for certain 2 days at Moaska then on to Alexandria & ship
this day week should be near france.
Tea 11 ¾ Pipe 2 ½ cig Papers 1 ¼ Biscuits 1/- ½
on water duty Tomorrow at 4 a.m.
Viv & I good health. great number of men with sores on hands, arms & legs.
got Pay Books back find they owe me 50/2
We leave here tomorrow morning for sure last concert tonight. The Colonel shouted a cask of Beer about ½ Pint each man
all Bustle & excitement. Tents all down at 8.30 p.m. Bivouck the night
up at 3 a.m. BKs then geting Kit together mine weighs a Ton fancy carrying it 7 miles.
got away at 5 all right at start but got fearfully Hot about 7 sweat rolled off me like rain.
Took everything off when I got here (Moaska) to dry even Boots are soaked through & my shirt I had to wring out it was just as wet as if I had been in the canal with it on,
some English Tommies called me over & gave me some Tea was nearly done up never felt the heat like it before must have been 140° to 150° am now sitting with my socks on drying the rest.
Off to France Sunday night that means leaving here Sunday morning then out of the Train into the Boat so shall not be able to see much of Alexandria.
Two of our Officers asked me if I had fallen into the gutter where the fresh water runs to keep the Trees alive.
Our Column was about 3 miles long & the Brigade looked alright,
have left the Sinai Peninsular for good thank God.
Inspection this morning not quite sure whether we go tonight or tomorrow morning.
Hellish hot again, thick fog this morning
on duty 2 pm to 6 p.m.
wish they would pay us
had a fresh water Bath yesterday first for 3 months
feet still very tender after that march Bathed them again this morning, washed my Trousers, coat, Towel, Handkerchiefs & sox They are now drying 10 a.m.
nothing else of importance
Big concert on tonight
Concert last night great success couple of Thousand at it, last in Egypt,
church Service 6 a.m. BKs 7.30.
expect to go tonight or early in the morning, not feeling too good got Bad cold & haven’t got over that gruelling march yet, feet still acheing.
Have not written for more than a week cannot send letters if I do so shall have to wait till I get to France.
Feel very crook cold no better.
had first real meal for four days at BKs this morning tin of Bully Beef & a raw onions & dixie of Tea, fills up anyway.
Got Kit bags again this morning have to carry them as well to Train thought they had gone for good. Pack consists of now.
Great Coat, shirt, 2 Prs Under pants, 2 Comfortors, 2 Pairs Sox, Cardigan, dixie in Cover, Billy (small one), Towel, Soap & Box, 2 Razors, Housewife, Tooth Brush & Paste, Comb, 6 Handkerchiefs, Writing Pad, Razor strop, shaving soap & brush,
Haversack consists of now. Knife, spoon, Fork, Tin of Jam, tin of Tobacco, Pay Book, Diary, Jack Knife, Boot Polish.
Kit Bag consists of Tunic & Trousers, in Pockets, Tobacco, cig Papers, Writing Paper & Envelopes, Boot Laces, Pr Glasses & Case,
Put Rif[l]e and Bayonette & 150 Rounds of Amunition on to this & it makes a nice load for a Camel.
Going tomorrow (Monday) for certain. the end of 8th Brigade went on Friday night, our Artillery went Saturday also Transport The 53 & 54th Batallions
18/6/16 Sunday [continued]
of ours went to day so we go at 4 p.m. Tomorrow I suppose.
all excitement getting ready to go
fell in at 4.30 & marched to Railway
am in truck with Viv 30 of us in open goods truck & an 8 hours Journey in front of us to Alexandria, get there about 5 tomorrow morning, dont start till 9. a.m. 4 Hours sitting here, quite a treat to get off the sand.
Am on the Boat Caladonia, arrived at sunrise after wretched Train ride all night
got wet with the dew which is like rain here, still at the wharf 1 p.m. The Train runs right on to the wharf. The harbour is chock full of Boats. Transports, Sailors, Men of war, Passenger Boats must be at least 200 Boats.
We shall require about
40 10 Transports for the Troops 20,000 then there are the Waggons, Ambulances, Artillery, Horses, stores etc. etc. & a large convoy of War Boats, expect our crowd will number about 20 or 30 Boats all told & will be a great sight,
leave either tonight or Tomorrow morning & in France (Marseilles) in about 5 days then in Train for 2 days & nights.
there are 3,600 Troops on this ship & the heat below is awful, but on deck a nice breeze is blowing, am fearfully sleepy had none all night & was up at 4.30 a.m.
Men very quiet, Knocked up.
Pulled out into the stream at 4-15 pm. Sail Tomorrow at 4 a.m.
all broke no money amongst us, spent my last 5 disasters on cakes 10. at Moaska.
crammed like sheep, don’t know how we shall
[Transcriber’s note: Diary entries continue on page 27.]
[This page contains some numerical calculations. Not transcribed.]
sleep down below everyone looked as if they had had a turkish bath at Tea time 5 p.m. dread putting in the night there. fearfully sleepy, had rice & Bread & margare & little Jam for Tea 1 tin amongst 18 men.
Alexandria from the Harbour a fine place but all sea front & little depth but a fine place all the same. A huge Breakwater all broken up goes round the harbour & is about 4 miles long.
Went to bed about 9.30 done up had an excellent sleep on the deck nothing on.
up at 5. BKs. 7 on duty at Guard Room all day.
expect to leave at any moment now should have gone at 8. all issued with life belts in case a tin fish gets us.
Our mess room a fearful disgrace not fit to feed pigs in, half the men sit down with only shorts on & the sweat streams out of them if it was not that we are always so hungry could never stand the odour of their bodies. feet etc.
A Soldiers life is about the lowest going & curse the day I ever was fool enough to take it on, writing this the perspiration is dripping off me & I am soaked through, food very poor so far.
Got to bed little after 8 still sweating
Went to sleep sweating woke up ditto you do nothing else & the Lord help us if we stay here much longer
BKs a little better this morning but much growling by the men, this pig stye of a ship will get a beautiful nature & this is what a man leaves wife & children
for also gives up good billets for King & country a damned lot either cares for you.
Think we leave in about an hour one Boat just gone out 8 a.m. were off now good bye Alexandria & Egypt. 3 p.m. We are bowling along the Blue Mediterranean Sea & it is blue the bluest water I have seen, everyone is ready for Submarines, those who can have hardly anything on & those who have to wear Boots have them unlaced
we have to wear our life belts all day & hang them over our heads at night no lights or smoking allowed at night & I hope we get through alright.
All lights out at 7. no smoking officers caught doing so & got blown up for it
fancy men like these to lead one in to Battle after being warned not to do so.
An anxious night especially with fools aboard lighting matches making us a mark for Submarines. Destroyers with us so hope to get to our Port safe.
Up at 4 this morning & saw one not 400 yards behind us There are 3 or 4 now with us 9. a.m. Land sighted on port side looks like an island. Mail Steamer just passing us same side
10. a.m. Passing through the Greek Archapelego destroyers all round us 2. p.m. have been passing the Island of Crete since about 11 a.m. then on to Malta, dont get a minute to write a letter, on continuous duty all the time.
Viv still bad with Rheumatism.
Troops do physical drill every day, no drink on board & no money, they owe me 50/- & I only get 1/- a day.
Another anxious night to go through, right in danger zone glad when we get past Malta
Nothing of moment happened last night our little destroyer has left us this morning so suppose we are fairly safe.
God help the fellows down below if we get torpedoed they will have no chance two small, steep, staircases is all the means of getting out & one can imagine what would happen if any panic occurred its a regular coffin ship this & should be condemned for carrying Troops the port holes are too small to get out of.
Our food is terribly poor & likely to be worse
wish the trip was over, am in a sweat from the time I came on Board till now. being on continuous duty unable to do any washing.
We see plenty of ships & mine sweepers.
Viv gone into Hospital foot very bad.
our course is most erratic we go like this zig zag all over the place then a long sweep round [Drawing of zig-zags interspersed with rounded arcs]
am on deck getting a breather have to be on guard on Canteen all day & I havent been dry since I came on board my clothes are sticky & damp with sweat.
Submarine sighted this afternoon 1 ½ miles to stern got away from it, reported that 3 were seen during the morning but think it was the usual latreen.
Had to sleep on Top deck.
spent a wretched night up half the night bladder Trouble & diarrhoea the deck too was wet & hard as nails so couldnt sleep, dew very thick like rain, & a fog on this morning.
The sea looks oily & a Periscope could easily been seen
Passed Malta yesterday afternoon, so going to France
church service this morning, very muggy weather, makes you feel damp & clammy.
Will be at Marsailles tomorrow night, this is our fourth day on sea, cant get a chance to write yet. They will be wondering whats up.
Made mistake about Malta are anchored here now 2 p.m arrived 12.
expect we all meet again here one Transport full of men here when we got here, may be here a week
at 2-15 hundreds of our fellows are over the side swimming bit too high a dive for me
Malta funny looking place looks as if there had been a fire & left only the big buildings standing quite apart they are so scattered & the ground seems all Terraces there is little or no Trees or vegetation.
Two more Transports just coming in & two coming up. American Boat City of Mexico Torpedoed at 12 yesterday same spot that we passed over
We have much to be thankful for in being safe in Harbour don’t know if any saved.
26/6/16 6.30 a m:
Still here at Malta expect we shall put in some time
The Trawlers are out sweeping for submarines. They came in about an hour ago & are gone again. I hope they catch the pirate.
Just as hot here as in Egypt only more muggy.
Viv still in hospital but getting better.
The Island looks very bleak & scorched up am Told that in winter it is all green again, but the sea air & heat kills everything in summer.
Torpoeder Boat destroyer came in this morning & took flagship away expect we shall follow some time today.
Leaving here at last at 7. tonight soon be in France & cool once more thank Heaven
sweat oozing out of all our clothes
Were off all after one another 7. p.m.
26/6/16 [Transcriber’s note: probably 27 June 1916]
up at 4. Shaved, much cooler this morning
anxious night last night very dangerous spots about. Are just passing the Island of Pontelerie. French Penal settlement. no chance of getting off there, very high hills right up from shore.
Viv still in Hospital but better,
Bad food that is damned little of it No issue of cigarettes & no money to buy anything with such is being a soldier & dying for your country
Yesterday the crews leavings after Tea were about to be thrown overboard when our fellows rushed it, Hows that for hunger who wouldn’t fight for such miserable brutes who control our tucker its time some one showed them up. Have to pay a penny a mug for Limejuice & water which ought to be issued to us. 10 ½ for small tin of Pineapple 6d & 1/- for chocolate, 4d for ½ lb of Tasteless Biscuits & so on.
Hard job to get water to wash in, washed socks Handkerchiefs, shirt & Towel in sea water.
Get to Marseilles Thursday morning hope to heaven we get better treatment in France, there will be trouble if we dont.
Passed Cape Born about 10 a.m. last of Africa
2 pm. are passing Sardinia then later on Corsica
7. p.m. Passed sailing ship looked very pretty
nothing of any notice expect to be in Tomorrow night
got beautiful cold Viv out of Hospital Tomorrow.
Uneventful night, couldnt sleep, Bladder Trouble up 6 times.
Beautiful morning & cool like civilized life again
The Coast of France on our right should make Marseilles to day some time.
Cold a little better. taking Eucalyptus.
Passing the French Reveira. getting near now 6. p.m. Turned quite cold Barking like dog
Viv has to go into hospital Marseilles lucky beggar. feel like going theire myself am half starved
Marsailles at 3. a.m. could only see few lights now at 6 cannot see much owing to mist
Plenty of Factories where we are but the Town proper is some distance away Built like Wellington NZ. Right up from Water up the Hills
Railways all run on Viaducts round the Harbour also through Tunnels
am afraid we shall not see much of it, still Here on Boat 2. p.m. do not get off till Tomorrow.
food absolutely rotten poor, dont get enough to feed child 4 yrs of age
At last at Marsailles that is the wharf Band playing & cheering etc. some French Women came along in Boats throwing kisses & acting frantic, will have to stay on board till tomorrow morning,
This town is all hills & must have cost a lot to build especially the Railways of which there are great numbers.
Factories are everywhere but sad to say not many of them working all the men at the war, same with shipping almost the only ships here are Transports that Brough[t] us
it reminds me of Mosman the way the houses are built. There are plenty of fine buildings & nice gardens (Private)
not allowed in the Town our Fellows nearly gone ratty at getting here at last.
up at 5. leave the boat this morning at 9.30 into Train at 10 then on to Rouen, am in charge of Police in our crowd. Beleive we travel at night & bivouck all day. Journey takes 52 Hours. We go through Paris, but of course
enlisted. due at camp 6th Sept.
[Transcriber’s note: The remainder of the left-hand side of this page in the original consists of notes, mainly money calculations; not transcribed. The diary entries continue on the right-hand side.]
wont see much of it.
all of us got lovely colds through the great change in climate which we came into one day after leaving Malta.
Seems months since I had a letter
expect we shall soon hear the guns now.
In the Train at last have been standing & marching for about 3 Hours with all our gear on Puts you in mind of an old woman getting up at 5 & to the station at 6 to catch the 11 oclock Train, These officers would break the heart of an iron monkey always want you ready about 4 hours before time. The Lord only knows how they will lead us or command us at the Front.
Miramac, Aries, Tarascon.
Assigunia D’Avignon, orange 45 p.m. Tea
Passed river Rhone 7.30. Montelemar livron Valence 12 Tain 12.45 1/7/16
all gardens Lyons 3.30 Tournus 7 am. BKs 6 a.m. Varennes Le Grand 8 a.m. Chalon sur saone 9 a.m. Beaune 9.30
all the former large Towns & cities. Gardens all the way 250 miles Dijon big Railway repairing works & large city. hundreds of lines everywhere. Junction, leave here for Paris & Rouen. near this vicinity is the great Creusot Works. 11 am. It is the most beautiful country that anyone could see no wonder they call it La belle France
Lunch 2 p.m. Mont Bard. 3 p.m. Hand waving & cheering at 5.30 got to great Railway yards Hundreds of Engines coaling up & watering & cleaning Place called Laroche saw first German Prisoners dressed in white & caps
crossed the R. Guise at 6 pm. Sens at 7. p.m. Montereux at 8-40 for Tea Pretty Hungry. Train on other side full of wounded makes one feel nearer the front
Trains going by all day & night the same
Melun. 11 p.m. Corbeil-Essoinn 1 a.m.
have been in Train since 10 oclock day before yesterday & will be till about 2 oclock today p.m.
Its worth it all though, for never saw such country & could not have believed it had I not seen it
so far came about 500 miles & its all gardens & crops no fear of starving the French out.
Juissy stopped here over an hour till after 2 p.m. Epluches 9 25 a.m. Voie 12.45 Amiens
Longpree, Abbeville dinner 2.30
River Somme. Verton, cattle & Horses
Etaples. 5. p.m. Ours & NZ Camps
see the sea again on to Cailas
Country greatly changed after Amiens swampy, running alongside the sea coast.
Boulogne grand reception,
8.20 St Omer & no Tea Big Town
Thiennes 11-30 p.m. Bed 12.30. a.m.
Monday July 3/16
Billeted at Farmhouse here (Thiennes.) all up the ladder into the loft & on the straw
After the 61 ½ hours on the Train slept well, about 20 miles behind the firing line could see the flashes of the bursting shells & hear the growl of the guns during the night The Boshes are getting it in the neck. there are about 50 of us in the loft
Air duel 4 Planes near lines. German seen to Turn & make off for its own lines.
Expect to be here 10 days then up into the thick of it which means about 10 more days to live.
Just got a scribble from Nell cant call it anything else, written on May 3rd this is July 3rd.
½ Holiday to day give men a rest after that 3 days & 2 nights in Train.
letters today, Pay tomorrow owe me 54/2 hardly any of us had a penny from Egypt to here dam shame & no credit to the men in charge, the only thing to their credit was that we got better food on the Journey & luxuries in the shape of Butter able to get the stone Biscuits down with its aid.
Viv still in Hospital I expect, lucky for him if he is sent home, not much chance of getting home after getting to the Front now, too much like suicide.
Twilight till 10.
Bed 9. oclock.
Heavy Bombardment all night.
up at 5.30 commence duties to day. dont know when I shall get time to write now nothing else but patrolling all day up till Bed time. shall be in the thick of the fighting in about 3 weeks. or less.
fierce Bombardment again to night
Heavy thunderstorm to day & miserably wet afterwards, not such a nice place when wet nothing but mud,
expect to get paid tomorrow, about time, owe me 54/-
great place for church on day & night.
to bed 10-15.
Wednesday July 5/16
up at 6. looks like rain all day, guns going off all night must be hell in the trenches in the wet.
We go into the reserve Trenches in a few days.
rain kept off, expect pay today but been doing so for weeks now, cant buy smokes or food 2 Spoonfulls of stew Rice & a piece of Bread my dinner today There will be trouble here soon if men not paid the officers take dam good care not to go without. Treated like children, sent to bed later told to go to sleep in day light 9 p.m. Its daylight till after 10. p.m.
Suppose there will be another Bombardment to night.
Going to do a lot of detective work to-night on suspected house lights showing last night after 11. feather in our cap if Sergeant & I successful.
Wrote & posted letter to Jack wrote to Nell yesterday.
Viv still at Marsailles Hospital.
Money owing to me now £2-15-2.
Bed 10 p.m.
Thursday July 6/16
up at 6. did not hear the guns last night expect we have driven germans farther back
saw no aeroplanes either yesterday, all of the opinion that this is the beginning of the end with the Boshes, Pressing them on all sides & they can’t stand that long.
Can hear an occasional big gun but only at intervals.
got two letters from Nell one from Kate & 2 Jack 1 card. expect parcel. Wrote long letter Nell not posted yet.
Rain keeping off. Town of Ayr only 5 miles away, Big headquarters.
Half men paid today other half Tomorrow of course I wasn’t.
Friday June 7/16
Trying to rain this morning anything but like summer weather.
have not heard the guns these last 2 nights a lot of firing yesterday.
Pay at last only got 25 francks 17/11 up to date they owed me £2-17-0 so am still £1-19-1 to the and
Friday July 7/16 [continued]
if this is our last pay that is if I get knocked over add on to the £1-19-1 1/- a day to the day I pass out & you get what is owing to me. My deferred pay now amounts to to date. £9-17-0 add the £1-19-1 makes £11-16-1 to date owing to me.
cant buy cigs or Tobacco nice spot to be dropped into.
Sat July 8/16
nothing much to put in to day.
cant buy cigs gave 8d for pkt 3 castles [Transcriber’s note: Three castles was a WD & HO Will cigarette brand.]
got 14 in the clinq Beautiful crowd drunk & mad, Breaking & Theiving makes one ashamed to be amongst such vermin call themselves men treating the people who welcomed them like they did.
off to the front tomorrow, got some cigs 1/3 for 50 not so bad got them from Ayr about 4 miles away Tommies canteen.
Rounding up the drunks a good game I don’t think. 8.45 p.m. they have all to be in bed by 9. got to bed 2. a.m.
up again at 5 a.m. leaving for the Trenches thank goodness we are getting away from this place, could have been made a nice little home of but the Hooligans spoiled it as usual curse them so here we ar[e] off at last to the bullets & shells. 7.30 am: marched about 12 miles Passed through Melville & am now quartered at Etaires big Town
Placed under open arrest for inquiring where the officers Mess Cart was, walked two yds into the road the one & only Palmer put me under it & this is what a man gets for looking after himself & supressing others to hell with the military I shall do as the others do in future they seem to get the best of it
[Note at top of right-hand page:] This Town is called Salle.
Had a run out to see the Town & had a few drinks got home early
the streets are all cobbles & plays up with your feet there is a very old cathedral in this place same as at Merville,
was watching the aeroplanes being shot at yesterday its marvellous how they escape being hit saw 40 shots fired at one The guns are allways going here
Monday July 10/16
Up at 5 slept in clothes all night
feet very sore after that march Bathed them in Condy’s & it was so cold could hardly stand it, several blisters,
The Aeroplanes & guns are at it again
resting this morning move off to day sometime into the thick of it.
Plenty of wounded here, big hospital.
Been stuck in our Billet all day other companies allowed out Treated like Kids “oh’ we have great officers, intelligent officers ought to be back at school again think they have a lot of angels to look after. some Trouble in view have given up Police Biz no good to gundy [Transcriber’s note: “no good to Gundy" is slang for “no good to me" or “no good at all".]
we are off at 7.30 for another 4 mile march where we get billeted from there to the Trenches at night, more Plane & Gun Biz over the lines.
feel a bit seedy feet much better but dont look forward to march ought to get to new diggins about 9 p.m.
got here 10 p.m. all ruins germans been here & fighting all over the place not far from the front line now, move off Tomorrow.
Tuesday July 11/16
This place has had a lively time all the Houses Church etc been shot into
go on at 11 tonight into firing line God this is a rotten game
July 11/16 Tuesday
Treated like criminals am still under open arrest anyone would think I had committed murder.
off at 8 for the Trenches where we may be a month or an hour just as your luck stands to you seeing I have none expect it will be an hour if so & this is my last entry
Good Bye Jack, Carol, & Tony & Mother say good bye to all Friends & Syd, Jean & Arthur tell them am not in the least nervous & will glad when it is all over one way or another Best
Viv hasn’t joined us yet & its hard to say if he ever will now if he does & gets this first & is spared I hope Viv you will give an eye to mine & see that they get what is coming to them
To date there is £10-1-0 in deferred pay & there is owing to me £2-3-1. making in all £12-4-1
see that my Wife gets this & her pension if anything happens to me
Good Bye Old chap & look after yourself Tell Syd I expect him to give a hand in the same direction & say good Bye to him & Arthur also Aunt Annie & Mrs Parsons Snr & Jnr & Will also the McNeillys & Selkirk if you see him. Best
in the Trenches, hell of a row last night marched in here under schrapnell fire but no casualties, got here 12-15 a.m. had an hours sleet then stand to at 3 a.m. been on duty since, now 4 p.m. one of D. Coy shot last night.
Guns have started again & are banging away, so far nothing much to swank about, cant get hit very well in Trenches, am on observation duty.
Just near us is Convent that was sacked & the Nuns ravaged & Priest’s shot. ruined houses all about.
fierce Bombardmt all night on our right, flare lights & machine guns ditto, must have fired hundreds of Thousands of rounds
went on duty at 9 p.m. fatigue filling & carrying sand bags of mud its all mud here & must be awful in winter time.
One of our fellows got eleven wounds from schrapnel shell in the leg another one killed in D.Coy.
have been working all night at fatigue & am still on it 7. am will not finish till 10 a.m.
since coming into Trenches have had 6 hours off in 34. & haven’t fired a shot yet, nothing to fire at.
Raining left off at 10 had a wash first for 3 days, poor food & no drinking water but plenty of graft, this is the life,
the germans are sending schrapnell over 2.30
Just been up for trial about trying to get my pack was admonished.
Can’t get a letter away home yet Nell will think I am outed. [Transcriber’s note: WW1 slang for killed or knocked senseless.]
Expect heavy firing tonight, shells been exploding quite close to us to day
The 58th are getting it hot not 100 yds from
July 13/16 [continued]
where I am sitting, one fellow had his hand smashed another went out to it just a while ago shot through the stomach.
have got a little dug-out of my own at any rate it is drier than the last where the walls were dripping wet & slugs climbed all over you & as dark as Egypt . gave me the creeps to go into it
ought to get good sleep tomorrow, on duty from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. July 14/16. was on from 9 last night till 10 this morning. a man will be lucky if he gets any though.
lost my dug-out had to go back to the slugs etc. expect it means Rheumatism for me.
Heard about Viv, he is in the 1st Reinforcements for the 55th so may be here at any time now. Will keep letter till I see him,
Terrific Gun fire from N. Zealanders lasting 2 or 3 Hours must have made an advance
bullets flying all round us, no one seems to care much getting used to them
off duty at 4 till 10 just had BKs much improved since Gen Macay visited us yesterday. Just finished dinner when germans began sending sausages over got so hot were ordered into dug-outs the shells bursting not 20 yds away & covering us with mud a lot of men hit this morning
on from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m.
58th had 4 killed & 15 wounded we had one killed & one wounded dam hot while it lasted but we made it hotter for them. made my first effort to kill a German who was sending up flares if I did not get him at any rate made it too hot for him, for no more came from there, its fluky shooting at night
July 15/16 Saturday
dead tired this morning on the parapet that is front line sniping all night. Not so busy last night.
Just been woke up & told to pack up off tonight, not sorry had no sleep here 18 hours out of 24 working or fighting.
great go in with five of our Planes & the Germ guns this morning beleive they got one of ours but hope not.
Just got our dug-out decent yesterday Albert Ferris & I now we have to leave it for someone else. it was filthy & wet.
The Artillery are going it some
Got Tin of cigs comfort fund mine sent by Lady in Queensland am writing to thank her.
This place is where O’Leary got his V.C.
Expect to be off any moment now 2 p.m. beleive we are joining Australians on the Somme a deadly place am told Please God I come out of it all right.
on duty 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
[Note in top margin of right-hand page:] Bac-Saint-Maur
Sunday July 16/16
I never expected to be able to write this after last night, although we expected to leave at an early hour the germs thought otherwise & started Bombarding the 58th & it was hell, my position adjoined theirs & of course came in for some of it. I never thought anyone could live through such a hail of lead & explosives.
first of all we gassed them farther up the line then after or during the shelling they gassed us & thanks to the helmets came out alright.
One poor fellow from the 58th came to me to get his hand bandaged up, his thumb was blown off how many casualties their were I dont know but there must have been many
Anyway the swine didnt get through altho it must have cost them thousands of shells to try it
The 55th carried themselves like veterans.
I had a lot of running about with messages & taken all through had as lively a time as any The shells were so close once that my hat rose up The metal was flying about in tons & this is the glorious
thing called war may the starter of it get it through all eternity.
They smashed up the 58th Trenches & we thought they were through them but it was a false alarm.
I was sent round to find out. fully expected every minute to be my last but was not scared only a little excited, my face got very hot. We left about 2. a.m. the Shropshires taking over & marched to this place Bac-Saint-Maur where we are resting. going on to God knows where tonight.
during the inferno I thought of Mother & Nell no one else seemed to cross my thoughts
off to night to big battle Trust to God that I come through all right.
have not been paid since last entry so amount owing to me now is £2-9-1 to date with defferred pay 10.7-0. making £12-16.1 all told so I hope the wife gets it if I pass out. It promises to be worse than the other night.
was out there this morning carrying ammunitions. 5 miles out & 5 back & about 1 mile to Trenches did two trips
feel tired & hardly fit for what is in front of us, but its no use not being fit you have just got to do it
Good Bye Nell & Boys, Viv, Jean Syd Arthur Mary & Walter & Kate & all Friends hope it is only Au revoir.
A lot of the Boys have promised to send this diary on if I get knocked, am sure you will get something interesting out of it besides knowing that my thoughts have been with You & the Boys in every situation I have found myself. Write or get Tony
[Transcriber’s note: From page 44 there are entries for 1915 as well as for 1916 on some pages. Where this occurs, entries have been grouped by date with entries for 1915 above those for 1916, and marked [1915 entries] or [1916 entries], as appropriate.]
Monday 6 September 1915 1st Part of diary
enlisted Aug 11/15
Entered Camp Agricultural Grounds.
had leave tonight
devil of a row to night some of the fellows drunk kicked up hell no sleep till about 4 a.m. Two fired out over it serve them right. Hop out any six of you, originated from it.
its a hard bed were on & no error suppose we will get used to it
July 17/16 [continued]
to do so to Auntie Lucy & give her a summary of my adventures as well as Vivs, who bye the way has not joined us yet
9. p.m. Flaubeux is the name of the place where we were bombarded.
am writing this not 100 yds from our guns which are shelling the germs. & they are sending them in wholesale, its wonderful how any thing can live under them when the burst.
am on munition carrying again & it is a dangerous game, not knowing any minute when a shell will burst here.
The big thing did not come off last night as expected & dont know when it will.
Got letter from Willie Stewart last night
was out carrying munitions all day 60 lb Bombs etc am now out here again & the shells are flying round like ants its awful this is the big day & God knows how many of us will come out of it alive.
Thank god I am still alive and not wounded except for slight Bang on the finger from splinter of shell. My Steel Helmet saved me five times & how many escapes I had could not be counted
1st Part of diary
Tuesday 7 September 1915
up at 6., Bugles, coffee & Bromide at 6.15 fall in at 6.45 marched out to centennial Park double, its a corker march & double again its still a corker
Back for BKs Stew & coffee
fall in again at 9 squad drill till 12.15 dinner, stew, out again 2. more squad. D. till 4 Knock off started to put our horse box in order fearfully dirty in fact all dirt
this is the life (vide Eaton) Tea & Bred & Jam 5
Bed early but little sleep ground too hard
Wednesday 8 September 1915
up at ¼ to 6 Beat the Bugles
same as yesterday more foraging for fixing up the palace getting a bit more used to it walk about 20 miles a day getting hard
slept a bit better
July 20/16 [continued]
& if any man was thankful for his safety from such a hell I am he.
Nearly all our officers are dead or wounded & the Batallion is about half a
company Batallion now.
the sights I saw will never be forgotten it was like a butchers shop the 53rd lost their Colonel, Major & Adjutant nearly all our Lieutenants are gone also our Sergeants & corporals
could you see the remnants of the Brigade eating Bread & cheese etc on the road side it would make you cry
of the 54th Batallion about 200 are left & they died like heroes every one of them. There are some
Thursday 9 September 1915
same as yesterday had sausages for BKs they went good
Viv sticking it fine feeling a bit stiff
beginning to find I can sleep a bit better
The Bromide makes you forget women & what you thought necessary, pretty rough on a married man
Marched to Coggee & had dip in surf it was great Got blister on my heel very sore came back by Tram slept like a log.
Poor Mother is not so well do not expect her to last much longer
Friday 10 September 1915
same old thing doubling & marching & squad drill or Platoon Drill
Walk us about all day must do 30 miles during the day.
off to night if I can get tit.
Heel very bad have to have a spell tomorrow.
nearly broke wish pay day would hurry up
sleep alright now,
Boarded up the floor & put pictures round the walls looks O.K.
this is the life (E)
July 20/16 [continued]
Prisoners but we took about 200 germans so equalised that way.
We look a sorry crowd covered with mud from head to foot arms, legs, eyes, noses, fingers bound up. Yes by hell we caught it & those who think this war is nearly over are in for some surprises I give it
Saturday 11 September 1915
had week end leave from today noon to 12th at 10 p.m
did not go out to drill Heel too bad
home till Sunday night strange but slept no better in a soft bed
the greatest enjoyment is the shower bath theres nothing quite like it.
Thunder storm to day wet all afternoon
Sunday 12 September 1915
Mother Died did not get news till 13th
went back to camp.
Syd came along this morning had wire from Tamworth Mother very bad he went by the nights Train but too late to see her
slept nearly all day, a strenuous week but getting very fit our fellows drilling well.
Rained all the morning.
July 20/16 [continued]
another 2 years at the least.
One narrow escape I had. 3 of us were taking shelter from shells with our backs against a Trench island when a shell plumped right into the island shoving the dirt up against our backs but did not explode, if that was not Providence I dont know what is for had it exploded the 3 of us would be just about ready for cemertry by now.
It was a ghastly night stepping over the dead men in the trenches some of them being only half there a lot of my chums are gone & I can only account for 3 out of my section of 12.
We were highly complimented on the way
Monday 13 September 1915
received news of Mothers death
got relief till 14th to 10 p.m.
was out this morning for the usual Double & Breathing exercise rather enjoy it now find my lungs can take in much larger doses of air.
got news as above about 11.30 was on fatigue duty waited for Viv & then we both got off
can’t realise it yet The dearest & best of Mothers has gone for ever may not be long now before I follow her
Tuesday 14 September 1915
have had the house to myself all the morning & am fearfull depressed never felt anything like it before should have loved to have followed her to the grave, have to get back to camp tonight.
in which we charged & fought & the Colonel said we were magnificent
the General was awfully pleased & said that the attack was done just as it was desired & that it was a feint to draw the Germans from the Somme front.
it succeeded alright & we took 200 Prisoners, some of the Boys got helmets & all sorts of things
We are away from the firing line & all done up & going to bed I dont want such an awful experience again & dread another battle, all our nerves are unstrung & the roar of the guns has deafened a lot of us, again
Wednesday 15 September 1915
up at the usual about ¼ to 6 always beat the bugle shave every morning
have concluded its no use fretting about Mother it wont bring her back & she is a million times better off, but I shall miss her terribly.
We are getting on famously in our drill & it seems months since I came in.
Concert to night some good talent there, sleep like a topper now, getting hard as nails
Thursday 16 September 1915
same old thing Beat the Bugle
got challenge from B. Coy to drill we must win. have to beat our own crowd first.
Glorious day Pay day to day but not our day off 10 days at 5/- separation allowance later on.
Heel still bad dont get time to heal up
to bed fairly early
Thanks to God for bringing me threw such a shambles.
We have hardly any officers left so have to be reorganised. I cant help the feeling that mother is interseeding for me, when the shells are bursting all around me & over me I get this thought into my brain, how I wish I could be the man she wanted me to be.
have not been paid yet so they owe me £2-12-1. & the amount to date now with deferred pay is £13-2-1.
Friday 17 September 1915
The usual thing up before the Bugle, shave etc. drilling like the devil now to beat B. Coy. all feel sure we will do so so of course must
got leave tonight till 12 but always get back before lights out if possible.
can’t say I’m in love with that coffee & Bromide interferes with domestic duties
am getting very brown from the sun, can do any gallop with the best of them now
Saturday 18 September 1915
no leave to day Bs week end off.
its a messy business cleaning up dicksies & plates the sand is a great help.
finished for the day at 12.30 am mess orderly today
went to football match in the afternoon Newcastle & Metrop good game New should have won 30-26 big scoring eh.
went to skating rink at night have free passes to see the giddy whirlers
7. am. all around me sleeping exhausted men, some moaning & others talking, the events of the last two days seem like some bad nightmare, if it hadn’t been for their marvellous Artillery we would have gone through the huns like a dose of salts when we got amongst them with the Bayonette they threw up their hands & howled for mercy or cleared for their lives & its certain that if we could
Sunday 19 September 1915
Wet day no Parade only church Parade Parson preached good sermon first I have heard for years hadnt forgotten the Hymns tho
Mother been dead a week but cannot somehow realise it yet.
rained nearly all day nothing to do but smoke
a lot of women came out to see the boys & the cadet band livened things up a bit
Monday 20 September 1915
Up with the lark or I should say the starling theres one under the roof on her nest & she gives us a greeting every morning.
We romped home in the Preliminary contest No. 1 Beating 2 3 & 4 Platoons so we meet B. Coys Best in a day or so must win.
Keeping us at it pretty stiff walk about 1000 miles a day now more or less
we get off every second night now from 4 till 10 saves the tucker bill.
Home to day youngsters all well
Heel still Bad
only get them on the run it would soon be over they had with them 3 regiments of the Prussian guards but that made no difference to us. Our fellows went right through them & had they been supported would now hold their trenches & have taken
Tuesday 21 September 1915
same old 2/6.
Viv laid up with Bunion on his left foot
Murray sent to hospital ingrowing Toe nail took half his toe off
Heel not right yet
our day in today B off
30th Battalion from liverpool came in to day 1150 men
Wednesday 22 September 1915
Took my moustache off last Sunday hardly anyone knows me met Nell & Carol in Moore park as I was coming home, didn’t know me
we meet B. Coy tomorrow the Capt of the 30th Battalion judges us.
Back to camp early.
thousands of prisoners. This is the third time these Trenches have been assaulted. The Tommies & Indians, & the Canadians & New Zers tried to take them but could do nothing
we took them but could not hold them a great feather in our cap.
now that I can calmly look back on the affair it seems simply a miracle that any of us came out of it unwounded.
The huns have been here two years & know our trenches as well as they know their own so could shell us when they liked.
I suppose there is some small report in the papers about it this morning it wont be much I’ll bet.
Just got two letters
1st Part diary
Thursday 23 September 1915
had a big tussle with No 6 Platoon B. Coy but we won 84 to 76
in the afternoon the 30th played A. Coy football & won 9. to 6 we will beat them next game.
another week to pay day
a big crowd went to the stadium but they asked for volunteers to stay behind in case of fire & I stayed I had a splendid sleep, heel bad yet
Friday 24 September 1915
Still beating the bugle
had argument with Mrs nothing unusual about that but I wish she had a little sense in her. caput.
went to Grace Bros had great time Girls didn’t know me
borrowed 1/- off Joe Ryan & 2/6 off Fost. got enough Tobacco till pay day now
fixed up with McLoglin to help the Mrs & Kiddies a little
am more satisfied now, have not got separation allowance yet
back to camp 10.45
21/7/16 [continued] 2nd Part
from Nell & Jack they still think am in Egypt wish I was. Shall answer Nells to day may be the last.
had a Roll call just now. I am the only one in 9 section & there are 9 in the Platoon we muster about ½ of a Company all told in A. the others likewise.
All my chums are dead or wounded & the guns are still Booming about 1 ½ miles away.
We are shifting again this morning farther away
should see Viv today or Tomorrow as the reinforcements are coming up.
Saturday 25 September 1915
we did a route march to day in the procession got up for the wounded soldiers
marched up to Woollhara then to Bondi Junc then on to Coogee & Back again about 8 miles & came in like veterans but a bit foot sore my heel not right yet
off till Sunday night 10. p.m. went up & saw Syd lent me 2/6 then saw Viv called on the chateau’s then home & bed.
Sunday 26 September 1915
got a bit of a head this morning too many Waiperos yesterday & too much walking
Mrs still in the best of ill humours. Nice Home to come to shall stay away in future till she comes to her senses if she has any.
Am having a quite time resting my feet
Syd & Viv & Jean coming to night. Nell goes Tomorrow for the help from Grace Bros.
The a/cs are Rent 13/6 milk 13/9 Bread 3/4 Gordon & co 14/- [bracket] 44/7
I hope she gets it
Our poor Lieutenant Mendleson must have felt some premonition of being killed so he left a case of comforts to us 3 Platoon in case of his death & they are dividing it out now as we are only a handful & are sharing it with the rest
Just having tea & the shells are flying over our heads you dont know when you are out of danger here, the Planes are flying about & the
Monday 27 September 1915
on Cooks fatigue to day Peeling spuds & onions & Turnips all day anyhow gave my heel a rest which is almost well now.
at night went over to skating rink but soon got tired of it all.
got our extra Blanket & water proof sheet to day rumours that we are going to India beleve it when I get there
Billy Wykstra came to see us brought 3 Botts of Beer very thoughtful of him good old Billy.
Tuesday 28 September 1915
drilling all day informed that we march in the 8 hour procession in dungarees
home at 4.30 wrote some letters etc. Nell got 40/- from the fund at Grace Bros a great help.
Well am jolly sleepy so to Bye Bye
the enemy guns are firing at him, how long I wonder will this continue. A Hun Prisoner says the war will be over in August I hope he is not a liar.
We are all scattered about in little groups discussing the event & telling one another about this one gone and that one wounded its almost unbelievable to think of fellows with us a day ago & now, in the cemetry.
Expect to go back into the firing line Tomorrow night.
Wednesday 29 September 1915
Hard at it all day drilling in sections & semiphore drill
drilling all the morning over the Hill & down Pretty well done up to night
went to the usual concert to night and enjoyed it takes you out of yourself for the time being
then to bed tired out but did not sleep too well.
Thursday 30 September 1915
up with the starling again and out in the fresh air at 7. more doubling over the Hill & leap-frog gave me an appetite anyhow.
this is the day of days Pay day & off to night am writing this at home. Wrote to my cousin Sir Newton Moore about Mothers death, too late to get paid now.
am going home early very tired its the weather, hot & sultry looks like a change.
Have to be vaccinated again the last two did not take.
shoot arm Parade Tomorrow.
July 22/16 7. a.m.
Saturday morning & we are just going to fall in to go for hot bath & clean up havent had wash or shave for 4 days feel horrible.
10. a.m. just had a bath & got clean shirt & underpants feel much fresher.
Am gradually getting over the ordeal was in it from start to finish. We are still getting about in our torn trousers & coats that the barbed wire tore
July 22/16 Saturday
when getting through. discovered that the colours on my right shoulder are nearly torn off either by a piece of shell or shrapnel bullet.
6. p.m. off out to Trenches again but not to the hell we were in the other night thank goodness hope to be back again in few days.
July 23/16, Sunday
spending quiet day in Trenches, huns & ourselves tired & I slept nearly all day, was on all night till 4 this morning & shall be again to night.
The guns however never seem to stop & are sending shells over us.
Monday July 24/16
all quiet to day did some sand bagging or I should say mud & had an excellent sleep am alright again, dont expect to be here much longer but it will do me
just going on duty 9.30 p.m.
Tuesday July 25/16
After stand to 2.45 a.m. did a bit of washing, Boiled some water & had Tea dont go on till 10.
Took our Pay Books last night so must be going to pay us & dam near time to £2-17-1 they owe me.
might leave here tomorrow.
I think the name of that fight of ours was Devenent. We are just beginning to realize what we came through.
The name given by Germans to our fight was Fromelles.
Paid to day £1-8-8 leaves me a Balance of £1-8-7 & deferred pay £10.16-0 in all £12-4.7 to date.
The shells have started again & are knocking down the Trenches to our right.
nothing of any moment up to 2 p.m. today
word passed along to get under cover as Trench mortars are going to commence at 4.
My Birthday 43 today
hows that young fellows (& 3 children)
[Transcriber’s note: The following line crossed out:]
M.M. symble used between whole nos & Fractions
[Transcriber’s note: The right-hand side of this page gives a list of semaphore and Morse codes for various words and phrases; crossed out on the original. Probably written in 1915; not transcribed.]
that means that the huns will return them with interest so expect a lively time in the next hour or so 3.45. p.m. 5.30 The promised smashing did not take place owing to the light being bad for observation see very little of the sun here all clouds looks like rain, been very quiet all along the line these three days now wonder what is in the wind.
[Transcriber’s note: This page gives a list of semaphore and Morse codes for various words and phrases; crossed out on the original. Probably written in 1915; not transcribed.]
[Transcriber’s note: The upper part of this page gives a list of semaphore codes for various words and phrases (on the left) and codes for various times of the day; crossed out on the original. Probably written in 1915; not transcribed.]
very quiet today am still on shifting earth must have bagged Tons of it these last 4 days will be glad to get a spell in some Town.
Very foggy at 3 this morning expect the winter is coming on shortly hope we get out of this before then.
got letter from Viv dated the 16th he was O.K. again so should see him soon.
We get very broken rest here, have to stand to arms at 9 till 10 p.m. then again at 3 to 4.15 a.m. BKs at 7. dinner at 12 Tea at 5
cant understand why so little fighting is going on as the summer is slipping by & soon no fighting can be done.
Just going on duty again 1st stand to 9 p.m.
Mosquitos eat you here.
[Transcriber’s note: The following rules are crossed out on the original:]
1. duties in charge
is to must be enforced
2. while work is going on unnecessary talking or moving about is prohibited
3. all attempt to call distant station must be continuous till replied to
4. all unauthorised persons to be prevented from loitering near stations.
5. when Station moves it must inform others in communication
6. signallers work must be absolutely confidential
7. a diary to be kept by each permanent station
8. Stations to be provided with copies of following orders –
A. order prohibiting unauthorised persons (officers or others) loitering in vicinity of station
B. order requiring all messages written or dictated & to bear signature of addressor or his deputy
July 27/16 [continued]
with ½ Box of matches no cigarette
been sand or mud bagging all day, will take on navvying when I get back.
another big fog settling down tonight.
July 28/ 16 Friday
was called out at 2 a.m. gas alarm but it was a false one so went back after ¼ of an hour to turn to again at 3 for stand to, couldnt sleep at all last night,
must not forget to tell Jack about the star shells & how they looked at first.
More Bagging to day
Genrl Godley visited us this morning while having BKs. of course there was plenty to day Yesterday we had Bread & cheese & a Tin of Syrup amongst 18 men.
altho surrounded by water holes you cant drink it as too many graves about & too much rubbish burried the water is clear but stinks.
had to give up signalling Viv not quick enough & I would not like to be seperated from him now
a great game going on between Aeroplanes & guns so far the huns cant get near our place
we have been ordered under cover from the schrapnel as they are flying just over our heads.
July 29/16. Saturday.
have been on duty all night observation post nothing much to write about
supposed to sleep all day & go on again at 9.30 to night expect to leave here tomorrow night,
wrote to Nell & Jack & cards to Willie, Kate & Mrs Parsons.
on duty 9.30 p.m.
July 30/16 Sunday
came off duty 9.30 a.m. observation post all night.
everything very quiet wonder what is up at all.
got orders to man the Trenches at 7. p.m.
Artillery going to start straffing huns 6 or 7
Aeroplanes just gone overhead expect the next hour or two to be pretty lively. 8 p.m. Bombardment over it was nothing much one of those ruses to draw troops away from another quarter where an attack is going to take place.
No sign of Viv yet wonder if he is coming in tonight with the reinforcements 120 expected.
By the Papers this war should not last much longer by what I can see here its likely to last another 5 years.
Last 2 or 3 days all sunshine & quite hot with fogs or mists at night.
Finger getting on slowly must have been a near thing to a break
Monday July 31/16
had an exciting night the huns thought there was an attack owing to the bombardment & blazed at us all night with Rifles & Machine guns a wonder some one was not caught napping, came off at 4.30 a.m. on to water fatigue.
Put out of my dug out at 9 when fast asleep no other place provided overcrowded now, consequence had to try & get sleep on standing boards in Trenches
while lying there the nose cap of a shell falling from a height of about a mile plunged into a sand bag half a yard away
Monday 31/7/16 [continued]
from my head, a near thing that, one of the Engineers dug it out & is keeping it as souvenir.
had hardly any sleep to day & have to go on at 9.30 as usual for 12 hours.
These shell caps seem to be chasing me another fell about 4 yds away wish those Aeroplanes would fly somewhere else than just over our lines.
on duty 9.30. p.m.
Tuesday 1st August.
had a lively night again, think our officers got the Jumps they expected Huns over last night, but barring firing tons of lead at us the night was quiet enough
got off at 4.30 a.m. this morning & am sharing dug out with 2 others anywhere but sleeping in the open.
Wrote & Posted letters to Syd, Loo, Nell, & Mrs Parsons yesterday.
Had good sleep to day going on again all night.
Wednesday Aug 2/16
One chap wounded (Peterson) in the thigh while out on outpost duty. one of the 53rd Reinf killed. Nothing much doing on either side.
No gas last night. Pretty lively
Bombardment this evening but not much damage done so far, going on duty 9.30.
We smash up Fritz’s Trenches & he turns round & does the same to us
thank goodness am off observation post tonight will get a little sleep at last am beginning to see things through the strain on the eyes.
48 of our reinforcements came tonight Viv not with them will be here in 10 days time.
got note from Viv by one of the reinfts says he will be with us shortly have letter for him from Jean but cannot send it as no letters being taken.
We go out on Saturday for spell can’t come quick enough for one the usual shelling this morning, am on the old sand bagging biz. to day & tomorrow finished up the day work & now just told had to go on all night. Bomb guard expect an attack, but think its all moonshine something to let the new fellows get an idea of a bombardment is.
[Transcriber’s note: The following note, at the top of the right-had side of this double page, has been crossed out:]
Paid Viv another 10/- making 20/- off the £3-9-0 to date. Bal £2/9/- Nell Paid off
Friday Aug 4/16
Anniversary of the declaration of war thought we were to have Peace to day but we had something else last night, our Guns blew up Fritz nearly all night & must have done a lot of damage, am still on duty 7. a.m. been up since 3-30 yesterday morning expect to go out tonight hope so any way 14 days in Trenches is enough at a time.
Pay to day got paid 20 Francs 14/- am still on duty down Trenches 8 p.m.
Still in the same place Bomb Guard & nothing definite about going out yet not going to day, Plenty of shelling going on caught 3 of ours to day 1 killed, Buckingham one of the Reinforcements & Battman to Lieut Morgan next Posi to us. lucky I was not up there.
still in the same spot been here 3 nights & 2 days sleeping in open Trench 1st night without coat or Blanket very cold in the morning about 3 expect to go out to day.
Wrote to Nell not posted yet.
I wonder what becomes of the Soldiers Comforts funds so far up to date have received 1 tin cigarettes & a piece of Tobacco & I went into camp Sept 6th 1915 arrived in Egypt Jany 20/16 & France 6 weeks ago seems to me someone is making a good thing out of it. Time some of the Papers got this, the other fellows all tell me the same & some of them were in Egypt when I enlisted.
Out of the Trenches at last thank heaven am now sitting in a drinker having champagne & no one can blame us after what we have gone through
in ticklish place last night fatigue work from dump to Trenches one more shot.
[Transcriber’s note: Handwritten dates on this page incorrect: should be 8th month (August).]
Put on Police work again
this is a nice rest camp Fleubaix been bombarded twice four or five killed & a lot wounded, hope we get the 12 days away from Trenches all the same,
have just been into Bac St Maur getting Post cards etc
Viv has not arrived yet & I cannot post any letters.
Just had lovely warm bath, provided by the Authorities. Am now sitting down to a Bott of Bock its about 3 miles to the baths & its a bit warm hence the thirst,
Our fellows are being knocked about terribly & theres talk of our going to England to reorganise hope its true
they say that 250 men are all that remains out of one division & we had 9000 odd put out of action in our scrap.
Am on the Police again get out of fatigues anyway
Posted letters to Viv, Nell, Jack, Carol & Tony today Am sending long letter to Nell next mail 15th 8. p.m. have got envelope for long letter will post Tomorrow.
Tommie’s coming to this billet will have to shift again Tomorrow I suppose.
Aeroplanes & guns at it all day & going strong now.
Just going on duty till 10. p.m.
The Huns are shelling this Town again & a lot of casualties have been the result. Their Aeroplanes were over us yesterday & this morning & that accounts for it,
got Nells long letter away this morning must start another now.
Have 27 ½ francs left out of the 57/½ I had.
on duty from 8 to 10 p.m.
very quiet to day & a drizzling rain has set in we will get some idea what Flander’s mud is now I suppose no Idea when & where we are going, England I hope & soon.
They owe me to date £1-9-3
on duty 8 to 10
deferred Pay to day is £12-0-0 & they owe me £1-4-5
Friday Aug 11/16
heavy fog last night.
up at 6 shave &BKs makes day very long especially when guns are booming at night
Yesterday was the quietest day I have seen here since going into Trenches, weather the cause.
Italians had great victory good luck to them Austria must be nearly finished by now. Russia still going strong.
Writing to Nell to Day. Posted letter Nell. 1 p.m.
This Beer gives one the Kidney ache must take a little less but you cant drink the water its unfit.
Some more fellows wounded today by gun fire from the huns they shell this Town Fleubaix pretty often. & the place swarms with spies
Saturday Aug 12/16
nothing much doing this morning fancy it will be some time before we go to the front again to charge. do me.
heavy fog again this morning
more shelling again to day
Albert Ferris returned from hospital with others he saw Viv who is again on the sick list do not expect him join our Batallion now, will send Jeans letter on to him
heard news that the King would give us a pleasant surprise next week, hope so, may be a trip to England
Sunday Aug 13/16
Put in quiet night up till about 2. am when Gas Alarm was brought in.
Up at 5.30 for rations &Tea. Shave & wash 7.
Our guns sent fritz over some shells last night must have got them thinking.
Sent Viv’s letter on to day.
Expect the King’s surprise is a Trip to England then Back to Egypt for the Winter, will do me, we can’t do much good here now havent got many men & no reinforcements to speak of. Anyhow the winter here would finish a lot of us.
Latrines are going round since this news came. We are going as Garrison to India, Egypt, Ireland, we are going to England to do the Harvesting 70,000 men wanted We are going to Rouen, Boulogne, Etaples etc etc.
The Pubs here open at 12 to 2 & 6 to 8 every house sells beer & wine nothing else is odd Beer 1d a glass 70 a Bott of Bock. wine 5 a glass champagne 5 francs a Bott
English Papers 2 ½d ea. Butter 2 Francs Jam 1/4 Tin. Fruit 1/6 tin
Viv not here yet dont expect him at all now think he will be sent home or to Egypt.
Nothing of importance today, except that the King was down at estaires visiting the Austs didnt get this far.
the usual shelling etc.
a lot more reinforcements came to day
Viv is down in hospital with Meazles or something now wonder what he will get next.
Wrote & Posted letters & Post Cards to Nell, Jack, Carol, Tony, Lucy, Marie, Clive & Willie.
Fritz is sending the shells very close to here tonight. Blew one house to pieces leaving the sewing machine intact.
very quiet this morning think they are paying to day if so will buy nell a couple of Broches
Big Mail in ought to get a letter or Two, no Pay till Tomorrow
Expect to go into firing line on Saturday.
Thursday Aug 17/16
Got letters from Syd, Nell, Jack & Mrs Parsons
the Germs are shooting at our aeroplanes as usual but otherwise quiet, last night they sent some shells over into the Town half their shells do not explode must be getting crook ammunition. good luck to them.
Am now waiting for my pay. Got 20 francs 14/4 they owe me £1-1-0 to date now deferred pay now is £11-18-0. to date
The English Clergyman was here today & I am with others going to be confirmed as soon as convenient.
Nothing doing had warm Bath & change, Raining.
Rained during the night mud, mud everywhere sticks like glue to your Boots.
We are not going out to Trenches tonight as expected thank the Lord it would have been awful out there, thank goodness when we get out of this.
Wrote to Mrs Parsons
Nothing of importance except that we are going into the Trenches again tonight.
No news of Viv yet.
Streets still muddy & more rain about.
Got letter from Viv at last expects to be there another 2 weeks.
in the Trenches
had an awful time coming in duck boards muddy & so dark couldn’t see your hand in front of you wonder some of us did not break a leg or arm,
am fixed up with the Bombers now I wonder what next.
Wrote to Viv & posted it also Mrs Parsons letter,
guns are sending it in to Fritz this afternoon a lot of Planes have gone over the German lines.
on Fatigue after carry on signal.
BKs a small piece of cheese ¼ loaf Bread 1 tin Jam between 8 men & Tea to do us all day on this we have to carry Iron girders & Break stones & Bricks until 1 oclock it is now 5 am, who wouldn’t be a soldier
Wednesday Aug 23/16 1916
Up at 3.30 to 4.30 stand to then out again at 8 BKs & fatigue helping to build concrete dug-outs.
ought to be able to build anything after this, helped to build a cook-House last night after pulling the old one down, Killed dzs of Rats. they swarm in the Trenches & climb the Trees after eggs.
finished at 4 this afternoon, had a lively Bombardment later on Both sides going it strong don’t think Fritz did much harm, He has started again. Stand to again at 9.30. to 10.30. Gas alarm last night & again this afternoon.
a violent bombardment took place on our right about 9.30 last night, stand to again at 4 a.m. still on fatigue work.
Fritz sent a deuce of a lot of shells over us yesterday but dont think anyone was hurt even.
Rained from 4 to 5 am.
wrote to Nell.
Friday Aug 25/16
Anniversary of Mothers Birthday would have been 72 to day may everlasting Peace be hers.
We may be leaving here to night.
the River Marne is about 2 miles from here.
Bombardment at 12 midnight. stand to 9. to 10 Sentry 12 to 2. stand to 4 to 5.
only a rumour about going out. been on fatigue building cook-house & getting water from Convent where all the Nuns were ravished by the huns, it was also the head quarters of little Willie when they were here. wish he was here now.
It appears the 14th Brigade got great Praise from Sir Douglas Haigh over our charge says we are the first Australians to be recorgnised in France We’ll be getting swelled heads if not careful.
The shelling is going on again Fritz seems annoyed with us for last night when we caught him on the hop.
Sunday Aug 27/16
Put in a miserable night last night Stand to at 9. Raining, on Sentry 10 to 12 Raining hard + black night lit up now & then by Flares which made it darker when they went out, the duck boards were like ice & one could hardly walk on them. Stand to again at 4 a.m. on Sentry 5 to 7. on Sentry again 11 to 1. again 5 to 7 p.m. stand to 8.30 to 9.30 Sentry 9 to 11. again 3 to 5 a.m. “oh this is the life." finish sentry Tomorrow at 5. a.m. then fatigue again.
came off duty at 5. a.m. had rum issue the real stingo none of your Sydney 3d stuff.
Slept like a top BK at 7.30 sleep again, woke up by artillery duel, they have been at it an hour & still going strong.
They say this is to be our winter qrts. if so here’s one to be in hospital with Rheumatics
Am told leave starts next month may see, London after all.
Artillery duel developed into fierce Bombardment for 1 ½ hours (Fleubaix) 3rd stint I have been in some talk of
Monday Aug 28/16 [continued]
going over tonight think its a raid by volunteers.
Had another sample of hell last night, pulled out of Bed at 11 the bombardment had started again, have to crouch under the standing boards for an hour while the shells smashed everything around us tore up our small railway line & came unpleasantly close to us. we got one shell that did not explode just behind our Posie.
No use saying I wasnt scared, but we gave Fritz more than he gave us. & smashed his Trenches to pieces.
2 shells fell about 12 yds from us smashing our little Railway line up another came in behind us but did not explode one did & made a great hole.
some more reinforcements came in this evening in a Thunder storm rained in Torrents & Thunder & vivid lightening
they told me Viv is a sergeant
Put in awful night, raining in Torrents and on sentry go from 10 to 12 midnight
we expected another Bombardment, everyone wet, covered in mud & miserable, am dreading rheumatism, had a Touch of it in left shoulder & leg.
Can’t get over Viv being a Sergeant, must be hard up for men at Etaples, at the same time good luck to him. Jean will be pleased. funny part of it is I go through one Battle & three Bombardments and am a Private Viv hasn’t seen the front, a Sergeant.
The whole of the Trenches is one mass of mud gluey mud which sticks to anything it touches, & our dugouts just imagine what they are like with men crawling in & out all day & night.
Just heard that Roumania is in it with the Allies, everyone very pleased, must be getting near the end when the small neutrals come in expect the Huns will chuck it up & say they cant beat the World
5. P. been raining all day & doing so now seems set
Wednesday 30/8/16 [continued]
in for a week Trenches in an awful state
on again at 2 a.m. expect to be soaked through.
Fearful Bombardment at Arminters about 7 divisions took part they started at about ½ to 2 a.m. & were over at ¼ past, nothing could stand against that concentrated gun fire & the carnage must have been terrible.
We are getting fritz out of it & ought to wind him up soon now, expect we shall have to make a move on this front soon,
The Rain has ceased but the mud “oh"
Fritz sent some shells into us about 5 a.m. & 6 or 7 nearly got us, one shell went through Cooks dug-out.
We should be going out Tomorrow night or Sunday hope so anyway, am full up of this constant work, no sleep & poor food.
Hear we are to get 10 days leave next month for London wonder when my turn will come round
up to date they owe me £1-16-9. & deferred pay £12-12-0 making £14-8-9.
Thursday Sept 1/16
another alarm last night gas attacks & Bombardments etc, getting a bit too thick, no rest up till 2 a.m. Sentry & up again at 4 stand to.
Fatigue all day Pick & shovel & Breaking stones for cement work.
The British & Canadians went over at Armintiers & took 3 Trenches & they are still there the huns counter attacked twice but no go.
There was heaving firing on both flanks last night at about 1.30 a.m.
have not been paid yet.
expect to go out on Sunday.
on Sentry go at 10. to 12 last night stand to 4 to 5 a.m. on sentry again 7. to 9. am.
Fritz sent some Pudding Bombs over last night but our artillery soon shut him up, no casualties.
not paid yet. £1-18-9.
got news of Russian Victory 15,500 Prisoners taken.
haven’t had my Boots off for fortnight & clothes since I left Sydney except for a bath
Saturday 2/9/16 [continued]
sent Post Cards to Nell, Jack, Tony & Carol.
Just after got letters from Nell & Jack.
Quiet night last night the first in fourteen, going out to night, Plenty of shells yesterday afternoon.
everyone is talking London & when we will get there.
This steel Helmet is not doing my head any good constant bleeding at the nose through the weight & pressure.
Was working on Bag filling when our guns started fritz replied & a Bombardment of our lines was the result, we got it hot & no mistake, had some narrow escapes.
The W.C. was smashed up like a kids wooden block house, was Temperarily deaf in the right ear & my nose started bleeding, it lasted about ¾ of an hour. do not think many casualties.
We were lying under the standing board behind our dug-out when a shell came into trench about 2 feet from the ground & into our dug-out & right in front of me, thought it was time to leave which we did in a hurry & no one even laughed, sure sign it was serious, but to cap it all this afternoon two of us were sent for at Head Quarters & were taken by Lieutenant Robertson to dig up a 6 inch german shell that had not exploded.
of all the games I have been on this was the worst as the shell may have been timed to go off in 24 hours. When we had dug about 12 feet after it, located it about 2 feet further on, it wanted about 7 minutes to the 24 hours & our nerves were a bit jumpy when it got to 5 min then 2 min You can imagine our feelings, however as I am writing this you know it did not go off,
After getting it out we lashed it to a pole & carried it, two of us, about ¼ mile, as it weighed about 150 lbs, were glad when we got to H.Q.
The officer asked our names and gave orders that we were to do no duty tonight, outside of this we had to work like niggers as were fully
Sunday 2/9/16 [continued]
exposed to the germans who had plumped 18 shells on this spot yesterday, consequence was we did more work in two hours than we would have done in a day needless to say I was soaked with sweat. I don’t hanker after any more jobs of this kind.
I hope there is no bombardment tonight, nerves have had enough for one day.
To day marks my 4th Bombardment.
Quiet night last night thank goodness, stand to 4. am. Fatigue from 5 to 1 p.m. some shelling while away dug-out next to ours blown to pieces.
think we are going out to night no pay yet 40/9.
5. p.m. another Bombardment my 5th wish we could get a spell out of this my nerves shocking what with poor food Hard work & no sleep are going to pieces.
Had Tea, no sooner done than the guns opened up again this is not the life
[Note in top margin of right-hand page:] River Lys not Marn[e]
On duty sentry last night 10-12 & 3 to 5 a.m.
Raining as usual.
been off now since going on again 2 p.m. hope there is no bombardment today not going out till Thursday.
Pay 41/9 due.
On fatigue from stand down at 5 Heavy fog after BKs. was sent for to be coached in the taking of Holy Communion & if spared shall do so Tomorrow at 5 p.m.
Am writing this with the shells screaming over head but mostly ours. Fritz’s will come later
the rain has cleared at last & we had a fine day, but the mud, its awful especially when you have to be under the standing boards during shell fire, my overcoat is plastered with mud. also Putties & Boots.
was on Rifle Battery all night & joined in Bombarding fritz at 11 p.m. my turn on. pumped about 150 Rounds in then had to clear as the shells were coming too close for ones health.
resumed later on, theres no doubt about us giving fritz fits & he must be very full of it
Thursday 7th Sept 1916 [continued]
in the afternoon left for Fleubaux & was confirmed by the Bishop about 40 of us.
The war has done one thing for me & that is it has made me realise what life & death is principally death in its most hideous form & I hope that I shall strengthened to meet my end when it comes,
was under the impression that I had to go back to the firing line & did so, but was sent out again to join up in the M/P. got here in old Billet about 9. p.m.
What a treat to wake up & find that the shells are a long way away, have had about 17 days almost continuous bombardment & a little more of it would have wrecked my nerves, am standing it better than a lot of other fellows.
1 hours duty this afternoon & 3 to night.
some of the new chaps who took our place were wounded this morning.
No pay yet 44/9 due now & deferred pay £13-0-0
I find that some were killed also, hard luck when they were coming out that night.
On duty 7 to 10.
went down to get a bath this morning to Bec-St-Maur but too many there so came back again & had a cold splash here instead will go on Monday.
getting a bit of Peace & quietness now & am feeling O.K. again.
Nothing of any moment to day
had to borrow 5 francs from Sergeant £2-5-9
met a fellow from Inverell named Cates Knew Syd.
nothing much doing this morning, wrote to Nell but did not post it yet.
looks like rain, on duty 7 to 10.
Maudes birthday, must be 10 years since she wrote last.
Had lovely warm bath this morning
very quiet now we are out of the Trenches.
Pay Tomorrow £2-7-9. deferred pay £13-3-0.
Monday 11/9/16 [continued]
Raining again, saw some mushrooms & they are the goods fully as large round as a soup plate & an inch to two inches thick. Bought 1 lb Butter 2 Frcs cigs 2/3. Beer so far about 1 Franc.
on duty 7.30 till 11.30 p.m.
1st anniversary of Mothers death may she have the peace she deserved & may she be eternally happy. God Bless her.
quiet day officers had dinner to night Band played.
looks like rain, very quiet, no pay yet.
on duty 8 to 11.30 plenty phiz.
fine & cold frosty this morning, being paid today £2/10/9 deferred £13-6-0
first cold day almost snowing.
sent letter to Nell. Jam 1/5 Bread 5 Butter 10
rained last night & very cold came off duty about ¼ to 10. went out to Trenches this morning for letter came from Maude first letter for about 10 years Will still Prisoner in Germany. Writing to her today.
wrote to Maude & posted it also Viv.
5 pm. Viv arrived with other reinforcements got his letter back and gave him Maude’s.
Viv went out to Trenches this morning
had a high time last night got headache this morning
Viv gave me 95 Francs to keep for him & lent me 10 Francs outside of this.
Pretty miserable after being seperated so long only got a few hours together I wonder how he likes the Trenches.
C. Company went out tonigh[t] D. Coy came out gone to Sailly, heavy Bombard
Sunday 17/9/16 [continued]
last night, Rain started.
Cook came in from A Coy thought they were coming out.
raining & miserable must be hell out in Trenches
not feeling too well
lent 10 Francs of Vivs Brass will replace it when paid. hold 80 Francs for him now borrowed 5 myself.
Promises to rain for weeks by the look of it.
had a bath in Bac-St-Maur fine when I left but rain started again about 12.
nothing to report except big victory for allies on the Somme see Papers.
Colonel goes to england tomorrow leave has started wonder when I shall get mine.
lent Livy 20 Frs from Vivs money have now in hand 55 out of 95 owe 20 myself. money due to me £2-1-5.
got letters from Nell, Jack, Carol & the first from Tony in 9 months. will commence to write tomorrow feeling O.K. again.
Rain stopped 4 p.m. Part of A & B Coy came into our billet also C Coy crowded out wet & miserable.
still raining, expected Colonel to go away to day for leave but do not think so.
Stopped rain for an hour or so 56 Raided Tonight not successful 1 killed 2 wounded 11 missing
Raining a little on & off nothing much doing
Put in Morning at B.O.R. cleaning Handcuffs
Viv came back tonight all the Batt out of Trenches now Colonel gone to England.
saw Viv had a few drinks
gave Viv 10 francs out of his money it now stands Livi 20 francs Bert 25 francs Viv 70 Frs Bal 40 francs
Rain stopped at last & sun out again
Beautiful sunny day have not seen Viv, he is on Picket duty will see him tonight.
Viv 10 Francs Bert 5 francs Viv 5 francs Viv 5 Francs Bert 5 francs
too much Viv
hold 20 francs of Vivs now stands at present Livi 20. Viv 30 Bert 35 francs
Corporal Nixie blown up by Bomb seriously wounded at Bomb school
Livingston 25 Viv 45. 25 Bert
Taken over from Sergeant Livingston am in charge as Acting Provost Sergeant. but not confirmed yet
have not been fixed up yet as to Rank etc in new job.
Viv just gone down for a Bath. 9. a.m.
Captive Baloon got away aircraft guns tried to bring it down but it took the aeroplanes to get it, set it on fire, soon over
got Viv into Police with me starts tomorrow morning
have been acting Sergeant now 3 days
got letter from Livi today expects to be away fortnight.
Taken Pay Books expect to be paid tomorrow. they owe me £2-9-5 deferred pay £13-19-0.
Keeping fine & quite hot but rain is not far off
splendid Victories on the Somme.
not paid yet, do not think I will get duty money after all.
Got parcel from Nell & letter from Jack,
Viv joined Police
looks like rain, had a little yesterday
great victory on the Somme Combles taken
Paid to day 20 francs 14/4 owe me now £1-17-1
wanted more to pay Viv back but was
Friday 29/9/16 [continued]
advised not to draw as furlough was starting soon & I wouldn’t have anything to draw, so left it at that deferred pay now £14-1-0
letter from Livy will be a way a fortnight.
had a bath & was issued with singlet & shirt getting colder also another Blanket & new gas Helmet. on Wednesday wrote to Jack
wrote to Loo & Syd. fine & cool
Raiders going over tonight good luck to them,
getting a Banquet tonight at 6 & Band.
Pay owing to me £1-18-1.
successful Raid to night at 10. Two Prisoners 14 counted dead we lost two & five wounded captured Rifles, Bombs etc & useful information,
a great number of Reinforcements came in, we should be full strength now
clock put back one hour, guns opened up again, did not get to bed last night till 12 o’clock.
Jam 1/4 Butter 10d Bread 5d. cigs. 1/6. Pay £1-19-1. owing deferred pay £14.3-0
Raining. quiet & getting cold summer ended yesterday.
More men drunk yesterday than ever before (reinforcements)
Birthday tomorrow. 44.
My Birthday 44. No of my lodge. Glen Innes also.
Weather still bad thank goodness we are out of Trenches.
writing to Nell & Mrs Parsons today.
Pay£2-1-1 deferred £14.5.0.
Sergt Livingston came back to day takes over tomorrow 9 days duty money coming to me 40/6.
Still Raining. Sergeant took over this morning
fancy we are going to trenches soon.
wrote to Nell & Mrs Parsons, posted them
[Transcriber’s note: 1915 entries recommence on this page.]
Monday 15 November 1915 1st Part
Supposed to have gone on Board Boat some time tonight but as usual nothing doing haven’t even got equipment yet
Thursday 5/10/162nd Part
Bombardment this morning Armentieres
Rained during the night fine now & strong wind,
Batallion on divisional guards & fatigues. here another fortnight.
still raining, funny on opposite page 12 months ago wouldn’t squel now if there.
have 2 francs left. Pay to date £2-4.1 duty money £2-0-6 [equals] £4.4.7. deferred £14-8.0
had a bath got new Towel, 2 Prs Sox. 1 Under Pants 1 Colera Belt. am now loaded up again.
Plenty of Rain.
going to Trenches again to night, leave to England seems a long way off.
Pay now owing £2-6-1. deferred £14-10-0.
left for Trenches 7 p.m. Mud & mud & mud.
Am at the B.O.R. Viv & I. am Quarter Master
Treat last night bringing trucks down Railway
am getting on alright as Q.M.
Rain has stopped for a day or so but track in awful state.
expect to be made something else soon from Private.
German shelling us this morning one very close.
Am serving out Iron Rations must be some move on. First Comforts we have had.
Bombardment on 11.30. same old thing every day
Comforts yesterday coffee & Biscuits get Rum every morning now at 5 a.m.
Tuesday 16 November 1915
May go away next Tuesday glad to get on board full up of drilling same thing day after day, they dont know what to do with us having finished up our musketry instruction
Wednesday 17 November 1915
doing any old thing they just think of
Poor Wells in bad oder got the shunt from being in command of Tramway company Jolly rough on the man who got all these men together
Thursday 12/10/16. 2nd Part
up at 4 stand to every morning. Rum & coffee.
Turn in again & out at 7. fix up Rations, clean up generally round B.O.R.
Pay to day owe me £2.10.1 deferred pay £14.14.0
going out tonight a nice treat for me as Q.M. Plenty of Work Ye Gods it was as I said plenty of work Shovels Picks Luggage etc
Came out last night & dont want too much of this
off today to Outter Steene got here at 2 pm left Fleubaux at 11
Back on provost staff again Viv with me
had a splendid sleep right away from front now we spell here for a few days then on
1st Part Thursday 18 November 1915
on final leave leaving for Tamworth 4 oclock train plenty of excitement
think we off now on Tuesday for sure
Friday 19 November 1915
Arrived Tamworth 2. a.m. tired, dusty & anyhow no one to meet us so footed it to Lucy’s
found her in great Trouble her delightful Husband playing up.
got out at 5.30 & went to find a Pub. Viv & I & had to wait till 6. for one.
Left Tamworth again 9. am. quick Trip.
2nd Part Sunday 15/10/16 [continued]
to the Somme & where a great number of us will stay for good. luck has been good so far, may it continue.
church bells ringing wish it was for Peace.
Yesterday on the road here saw and Iron Gate with 59 Bullet holes in it. The Huns dont seem to have been here & it is about 12 miles from the front. The people here speak english very well not so much comprie.
Pay coming to me £1-18-9 deferred £14-17-0
very cold, getting a sample of what to expect took one Blanket from us to day, must be leaving here soon for the somme wonder how many will come back N.Zs lost 11000 there.
off this morning to Bailleul about 3 ½ miles then Train for about 88 miles, in Train at 1. p.m.
1st Part Saturday 20 November 1915
Back in Sydney at 7.30
Knocked up no one to meet us so got home. Wife went to Train but was too late
went to bed Played out
24 hours in the cabin on wheels.
disgusted with trip and conditions at Tam wish I hadn’t gone nothing but trouble.
Sunday 21 November 1915
felt pretty seedy & wish I hadn’t gone to Tam
take too much out of you especially if you put too much in
am not going back to camp till Tomorrow
French Girls up & down each side of the carriage selling cakes & chocolates just like Egypt.
3 p.m. Arras very large Railway Junction, Germans were here,
La Bassee Canal & large Iron works
Berguette. 4 pm Big Town also
Lilles 5. pm do.
arrived here Pont Remy on the Somme at 1 am. mud & confusion
standing round till 4 went to get billets & sent back again
got to bed at 5. 18/10/16 up at 9.
this is a large town the Power is got from water & water wheels.
not much doing, same old Patrol,
started raining tonight went off duty 9 p.m. the darkest night I have seen yet.
Transport left this morning which
1st Part Monday 22 November 1915
Back in camp. only time except the first two or three days that I wished camps in Heaven or any where else.
Anyhow they did not give us much to do so got over it somehow but no more sprees. Oh no, till next time I suppose.
Viv in lovely state.
am going home again tonight.
Tuesday 23 November 1915
Am feeling much better now salts & pills have worked their wills & Yoricks himself again.
Thought we were going tonigh[t] but as usual we are not & dont know when we are Perhaps some time in 1916.
Viv still crook
going home again tonight.
Thursday 19/10/16 [continued]
carrying our Packs for about 12 miles.
have to Vote today for conscription in Australia,
fine again hope it keeps so will soon be in the thick of it now on the Somme.
Pay 2-2-9 £15-1-0 deferred pay.
never put in such a day in my life marched about 8 miles then by Motor Lorry for 20 then marched again 9 miles to the front or near it
had to sleep on the mud in the open frosty night, cramps & done up. Viv also, we can see all the Battle front here & they going to take Bapaume, Guns thousands of them day & night never stop.
Wednesday 24 November 1915
all leave stopped to day to catch defaulters & impersonaters
time this was done as there are hundreds of them.
gave us some solid work to do says we are out of condition & believe them Know I am.
Thursday 25 November 1915
getting solid work now & no mistake at this rate should be hard as nails before we leave
expect to go next Tuesday or about 3 or 4 or 5 Tuesdays after.
going home again tonight
this morning the frost covered us & everything such a night I never want again, going another 2 miles to the Trenches this anything. This is the land of mud
near here is a huge Hospital of Tents. & it is wanted judging by the ranovating going on, you’d think nothing could live amongst it all God knows how we will get on
got a canvass covering tonight so should be a bit warmer.
Put in an awful night, cold, wet, underneath shivering with overcoat, coat, cardigan & 2 shirts.
Heavy frost again this morning
guns going for all they are worth thousands of them ours are in 4 rows & wheel to wheel. Expect to take Bapaume tonight.
German dug-outs here 40 ft deep Electric light laid on etc. Walls painted, over a 1000,000 men Here & wherever you look are Horses, Men, Guns, Tents, aeroplanes etc. a marvellous organisation.
Friday 26 November 1915
Ye Gods & little fishes we got it hot today doubling from 7 to 8 rout march (forced) to Coogee & back did 4 ¾ miles in the hour not bad did it alright but Viv had to fall out
home again tonight till 9. Roll call at 10-15
Saturday 27 November 1915
did some desultry drill during the morning & came in at 12-15
dismissed for the day till 10. p.m. had dinner then home. Carol much better back at camp at 9.30
Lucy came down this morning trouble with the Maori
Another night last night of incessant gun fire I wonder what the stay at homes would think of it.
Our Fellows came out of the Trenches this morning & a lovely crowd they looked covered with mud, only allowed their great coats so must have been nearly frozen two killed & 5 wounded not as bad as might have been expected.
They were digging a grave for one of ours when they came across a Tommy buried & still alive had been there 4 days.
hundreds of German & English dead everywhere been there for a month or more.
One Sergeant got short of Tucker so went out & raided the dead mens haversacks.
Rained all night the place a regular Bog cannot describe it on paper.
Sunday 28 November 1915
no sleep all night fellows half drunk talking nearly all night then a fire started about one oclock in an empty cubicle, a mystery, all hands called out but soon got it under
got off at 9. a.m. all day do not intend going back till tomorrow morning.
Carol getting on alright now.
went to see Lucy this morning have written her husband a strong letter which will make him sit up.
Monday 29 November 1915
Nothing of any consequence to day Viv still in Hospital do not think he will go with us always something up with his feet.
thank goodness Pay day tomorrow.
Stayed in camp tonight but no sleep Engineers having a Jello.
going away tomorrow.
Tuesday 24/10/16 [continued]
in to Trenches but rained all day today the Big event put off 24 hours,
never saw anything to equal the mud & slush here the Trenches are worse
To day the big Battle should have come off but still raining & the mud makes it impossible to move, get Bogged down crossing the road yourself
should have taken Bapaume today.
2000 Huns surrended last night they must be getting hell over there from our Guns.
Tuesday 30 November 1915
Payed to day,
Jean & Lucy came out to see Viv in Hospital.
got another lot of Kit today. Trousers & coat etc. very slow in fitting us out & we are just sick of camp & want to be off.
Lucy & Jean came home to my place.
off on Thursday week.
Wednesday 1 December 1915
Back again at 6.5 not much drill to day don’t know what to do with us,
got another surprise not going till 3rd week in December now, have come to the conclusion we are not going at all. the war will be over.
Home again to night on duty for 24 hours tomorrow Guard at Front gate.
Notes Oct 28/16
Peronne, Somme, Friedcourt, High Wood, Delville Wood, Marpis Wood, death Valley, Catterpillar Valley, graves everywhere
Big Bombardment on the left of Mametz Wood last night 41 shells came very close to us
Bombt on High Wood & Delville Wood got returns in Death Valley & Catterpillar Valley
same old mud & Rain this is hell & no mistake, sleep on mud, eat & drink it, wallow in it just like pigs
French got 7000 & we 3000 the other night (Prisoners)
Still here amongst the mud the event has not come off yet & judging by the weather there is not much chance of it ever doing so.
today is bitterly cold, our feet are frozen & many cases have gone to hospital with bad feet.
Bombarding all night again this is the 15th day of it now the marvel of it all, is, the germans standing it.
we are camped on historical ground you cant walk 10 yds anywhere without getting into a shell hole.
3.30 cold enough for snow expect it tonig[ht]
Still in the same spot. still the same mud & no sleep, food not bad considering, going on tomorrow.
Pay due to me now £2-11-9. deferred £15-10-0
Raining all day. miserable,
Posted Post cards to Nell, Jack, Carol, Tony.
smothered in mud,
100 men from A Coy gone to front line on fatigue.
expect the big event next Tuesday.
still cold & wet, snow soon I think, this is the most damnable spot I ever struck. Wind blowing a gale day & night
Viv not well this morning no BKs. If they keep us here much longer half the men will be down ill. getting better food but huts a sea of mud.
2. p.m. Our Boys just gone to Trenches, Raining like hell Viv & I left with others as guard
Tuesday Oct 31/16
fine this morning but a fearful night A Raging gale & not rain but sheets of water what our fellows must have suffered god only knows. the place is one sea of mud today & I have seen several bogged up to the hips.
The rest go out today & Tomorrow they go over to get Bapaume. Hope they do.
Viv better today.
all the Boys gone a lot returned beat layed out in the mud & water all night suppose a lot died, tomorrow they go over. good luck to them.
Wednesday 1 Nov 1916
no news from the line, a lot of men were lost & found their way back here they go out again today.
Reinforcements expected today.
Bombardment all last night.
found a Bosker dug out for Viv & I shifted into it this afternoon & were never so comfortable before, fire place, so fire all night.
dont know whats doing at the front more men came in.
have got an awful cold can hardly speak & my throat is like a lime kiln.
made some Toast this morning first since leaving Aust
no news from the front so far.
Bombardment all day today.
£2-16-9 pay owing. deferred £15.15.0.
Pay £2-17-9. leaving here today for Friedcourt, half the men nearly dead not any stunt this time. If they keep us in France, there will soon be no Australian Army left.
sorry to leave my little dugout the best I have had yet no mice or Rats or chats, the last one the mice eat half my clothes & Blanket
The Batallion left yesterday afternoon about 4. for Friecourt. We go this afternoon left in charge of equipment & stores.
heard we are out of action & only fit for garrison duty. Pretty stiff after the other events. Sorry to leave our warm little dugout, are in for another 20 odd mile march.
arrived here Friecourt about 6 last night had an awful night slept out in the open in the rain feel lovely this morning 6. a.m. going on another 10 miles today.
5th div. out of action & only fit for Garrison duty.
Meaulte, Courcelette. Treux, Buire,
Paid. 30 Francs £1/1/6. Paid Viv 10 francs owe him 20 francs. Pay owing to me to date £1-19-3
Village of Ribemont is where we are staying, went for Bath at Keilly 3 Kilos away. did not get one, had a chat instead
On duty till 9. A Zep Bombed the Railway about 400 yds away.
Raining like hell again, last night a beautiful night. leaving again Tomorrow for Reinville
wrote to Nell & posted it. quiet night
off this morning to Reinville by
Motor Lorry about 10 miles.
cigs & matches this morning still raining. on foot 4 miles motors through Amiens then 1½ miles on foot got here at 6 p.m. quarters up to putty.
A Beautiful morning best for months.
away 20 miles from firing line, put in crook night Toothache, the usual mud but not so bad as on the Somme.
this place is spelled Raine Ville.
Pay due £2-2-3 deferred pay £16-2-0
Tanks Bombed Amiens last night did not do much damage, we are not far from Amiens.
Had another bad night Tooth-ache, went to Dr this morning, going dentist today.
food rotten 1/6th of a loaf per man eat ours for BKs.
Pay due £2.3.3 deferred £16.3.0
wrote to Nell, Jack, Carol, Syd, Arthur, Mrs Parsons yesterday.
Getting beautiful weather now altho cold at night & morn
bread 11d yesterday ¼ today, so, the way the people treat you that you have come to fight for, last Billet Beer put up from 5d to 10d who wouldn’t come 13,000 miles to fight for such Patriots.
small tin Jam 1/- Butter 4/2 lb. can’t buy cigs.
billeted in tumbled down Barns with cattle & pigs, & slush.
Hun Planes dropped more Rounds on Amiens last night some killed & a lot wounded the night before.
10 men out of each coy on leave every day to go into Amiens, my turn tomorrow 6 miles each way.
Big Battle on the Somme last night. No papers here so do not get any news, guns still Booming.
letter from Tony yesterday.
Very cold this morning.
Sergeant going blighty next week.
Monday 12/11/16 Sunday
Sergeant gone to Blighty am in charge of Police.
wrote to Nell today. getting extra money for Xmas gifts.
Been foggy since 3 p.m. yesterday.
got ½ lb Butter for 2 francs 1/8 today. must live.
dark at 4.30 now.
Bombardment on our right all night &
Tuesday 13/11/16 Monday
still going on 9. am., cant buy cigarettes the same old curse each place we go to is worse than the last & this is the worst of all. having hell of a time with my teeth & no dentist.
Started duty yesterday as Acting Sgt. Police.
Wednesday 14/11/16 Tuesday
Pay 2/8/3 deferred £16-8-0 owe Viv 20 Francs
weather trying to clear up
got letters from Nell, Syd & Will last night.
[Transcriber’s note: There is a calculation (subtraction; pounds, shillings and pence) in the upper margin, not transcribed]
Thursday Wednesday 15/11/16
got leave to go to Amiens today left 12 got to outskirts 6 miles in one hour & out again in 1½ Hours hows that for 44 only two of us did it.
Went & saw famous Cathedral wouldn’t have missed it for quids.
A fine city & full of life thousands of soldiers of allies & officers by the hundreds.
Had a Steak & Eggs. fine
got fearfully cold at 4 pm. Tried wine no good so had coffee Royal, Bon.
got Back again at ¼ to 8 & Reported then to bed
Borrowed 10 francs from R.S.M.
Friday 16/11/16 Thursday
Paid 40 Francs Paid Viv 10 owe him 15 francs
Paid RSM 10 francs. Amount owing to me now £1-1-7. deferred £16-10-0.
fearfully cold this morning ice & frost issued with sheepskin vest & gloves.
cold as Ice everything frozen over can’t get warm
off again on Sunday.
Everything covered with snow a lovely sight & not so cold as yesterday looks like weeks of it
move out Tomorrow at 6. a.m.
Pay due £1/3/7 deferred £16-12-0
expect half of our fellows will peg out during the winter they cant stand it.
Viv & I nearly got bashed to bits crowd rushed us 10 past 8 lead by Murray of the Machine gunners. our turn comes next.
up at 4 BKs at 6 off to Fricourt 18 miles by Motors & 13 per foot
Viv’sface is a picture one eye closed & the other nearly so, Brave men to tackle 2, about 15 of them, Bill Earle my other man squibbed it & left us to it
arrived here about 5 oclock done up. got to put in about 20 days of it. Nothing but mud
Sunday 12 December 1915
Front Gate Guard always This when on Fatigue must like my height.
definitely known that we go away on Monday week ella
Monday 13 December 1915
off till 2 pm then eternal drill form fours etc wish to heaven we were going tomorrow
Loo came up tonight off home tomorrow took her & Milly home
up at 7. Viv’s both eyes closed got one open later on, am fixing up evidence on the case.
There is talk of another move. C & D Coy have gone back about 4 miles. We are at Head Quarters on the Somme.
Viv’s eye still very bad might to go to Hospital. Sergeant should be back Tomorrow get Murray on Trial then. the cow.
Pay due £1-6-7 deferred £16-15-0.
gave the huns what for last night. Heavy guns going all night.
foggy this morning.
Posted letter to Syd.
Bombardment all night & still going on
Livingston due back to day.
foggy as usual & mud awful. never seems to dry up here.
fixed up like rabbits in our huts & not much to eat grand life.
Major & smithy gone to London our turn
Tuesday 14 December 1915
Lucy went this morning
same old drill extended orders etc.
glad to get home again felt alright after Bath
looks like rain.
Wednesday 15 December 1915
raining like yes Just like you know
no drill all day
lecture in the morning & pay in the afternoon
went to Graces for Photos & at last got them
still raining & sleepy
expect to leave on Monday or Wednesday get news tomorrow morning
Wednesday. 22/11/16 [continued]
soon now, wish it was for good, fed up of this thing; the Aus Army is in my opinion one vast expense & useless.
Wrote & posted to Nell.
got fine in the afternoon but thick fog at night could not see one yard in front of you.
14 up for C.O.s orders.
A Beautiful morning Sun shining & altho a frost quite warm.
Livy should be here today.
nothing doing, watched monster gun firing from Railway about 16 inch.
Murray remanded to C.Os orders.
Bitterley cold, snow coming all freezing
Livy not back yet.
Murray up for C.Os orders. got 21 days but asked for Court Martial
Raining & the lovely somme, men just beginning to be able to walk about.
Pay £1-10-7 deferred £17-0-0
Viv & I got Xmas Parcels. to day very welcome God Bless them all for sending them.
Rained hard all night & still doing so impossible to do anything for mud & water I pity the poor chaps in the Trenches they must be nearly dead.
Wrote to Nell yesterday.
wrote to Jack & Carol, Mrs Parsons & Loo.
Rain stopped about mid-day. Rum tonight
Frost & fog first time my feet got real cold like lumps of ice.
Viv shaved & washed first time for 9 days. face nearly all right again
Pay £1-12-7. deferred £17-2-0
Foggy & cold guns going all night also gamblers, the sole conversation is leave to Blighty.
funny to see the excitement of those going & the envy of those left. 10 every 4 days. Rum issue
Big Victory in Roumania, Russians cut huns off.
Bitterly cold night could not sleep one Blanket not enough.
moving up the line 4 miles today more misery & mud.
arrived here about 2 p.m. awful march all mud & metal.
Terrific Bombardment last night 2 monster guns just near us no sleep. nearly shook the hut down. Guns still going.
Livy came back yesterday. did not see Newton.
Moving on again to day
Fritz landed some shells about 100 yds from us as soon as we got here.
Cold as charity frost, fritz shelling us falling about 100 yds behind us,
got two letters from Nell & Carol also Birthday card.
will be glad to get out of this. Thousands coming out of trenches with Trench feet.
this is Trones Wood near Ginchy, Fleurs, Montabaun, every 2 yds a shell hole. must have been hell.
[Transcriber’s note: Some calculations in top margin. Not transcribed.]
Saturday 18 December 1915
Mrs C Hubbard
38 May St
Tuesday 21 December 1915
Jones A Coy
Tall Fair-Head & (Moustache small) good looking wearing new ligh[t]-coloured clothes of English army colour star on shoulder new Boots & leggins
Germans attacked our Right last night & Terrific Bombardment from us they took 2 Trenches but soon left them again dont know casualties.
We were summoned to stand to & expected to go in but were not wanted.
Viv very crook not much better myself.
Heavy frost ground like iron.
Cold & miserable will be here for another 3 weeks.
Viv got a Parcel from Jean had only Biscuits & Jam so came handy
Frost as usual & the usual Bombardment last night, very fierce at one time.
Viv still bad, no voice.
Boys go into front line to day.
Had rum this morning first for a week.
Pay due £1-17-9 deferred £17-7-0
if it hadn’t been for Nell’s & Jeans Parcels would have starved.
heavy artillery duel all night.
Wednesday 22 December 1915
The eve of our departure for Egypt
my feelings are very mixed not sure whether I am glad or sorry anyway past events ought to convince me that its silly to be sorry
Went home & altho my last night at home my wife went out to see her sister about a hat or something, waited till 9-20 then went back to camp calling out several Pubs on the way, shall not forget this as long as I live, what a charming wife to have
I should have written this for yesterday
on second thoughts think it a good job all round if I never come back
Thursday 23 December 1915
at last we are off, did not get much sleep last night & was called up about 3. a.m to get ready, after much confusion got away, Tramway Bands leading & hundreds marching with us got great send off, but did not get away till 4.30 p.m.
Nell & Kiddies came out last night, she felt sorry for not staying in on Tuesday night, too late now.
Launches going round us all day. Only Jean & Mrs Cook to see Viv off. no one to see me not that it matters much glad to get away
all confusion on board no one knows where anything is.
going to get into Hammock seems as if I was up about a week
Friday 24 December 1915
out on the Briny now about 250 miles
caught a girl on Board dressed up as soldier caused some excitement have to transfer her to another Boat collected over £20 for her dashed Plucky Kid only 18. Also caught stowaway signed him on as soldier
feeling squamish but have not been sick getting over spree. No drill no one fit.
The gamblers are going it two up, Banker, Nap. etc
hope to sleep better to night, the hammocks are not too comfy.
started writing to Nell, Lucy Syd & Mrs Parsons
Am beginning to think I am somewhat to Blame over Nell. Rats.
Saturday 25 December 1915
about 600 miles away & feeling almost alright again
this is Xmas who would have dreampt one year ago I should be here at my age 43.
Well we put the little Girl off & gave her some rousing cheers she shames the straw-hat brigade in Sydney the wasters.
We have a dry canteen on board & it is just as well. do not know where we are going to call first so writing some every day.
Had church service to day & got a message from the King by Wireless.
having lovely Trip like going to Manly.
Wonder how they all are & how Nell is taking my going away would give a bit to know
Sunday 26 December 1915
about 900 miles away
another service this morning will be getting quite good if they keep this up theres plenty of room for it.
We are all settling down to it at last and the gambling is going on very strong ought to be stopped.
Bening to feel very fit eat anything & nothing to do but we commence tomorrow
added some more to letters
thought we were going to Albany but its only a rumour.
Monday 27 December 1915
about 1200 miles away now & started drill again this morning but theres no room for all the deck has been built on
Viv & I were on Fatigue work humping coal Flour & stores anyway it takes off some of the monotony
Caught a spy to day tinkering with the wireless plant German I think, he is to be tried.
9 cases of Pneumonia & 1 appendicitis also mumps but we are in great health wouldnt take a pint now if payed to do so.
Guns have never stopped since we came here
We are nearly at Bapaume. Needle & Rose Trench our front line
very cold & wet, fritz nearly got us last night 3 shells too close to be comfortable.
Pay £1-19-9. deferred 17-9-0
Horse ferry Road
Tuesday 28 December 1915
about 1600 miles away & the sea has got up some
in the Bight now & she rocks a bit but nothing to what I felt when here last.
tried to do a bit of exercise to day but its almost impossible.
there are about 1800 on Board
wonder how they all are a home wrote again to day
Wednesday 29 December 1915
about 1900 miles to day & nearly out of the Bight
Tried that mongrel spy to day but he would not say a word so they are taking him along for the Military to deal with ought to shoot him & done with it.
the same old routine today getting very monotonous. no Albany now expect it is Freemantle
End of diary No 1 to Dec 6/16
from Sept 6/15
7 Marina Road
Thursday 30 December 1915
New Years eve what a contrast from the last
steady up Im a day too soon.
We passed the Lewin so are about 2300 miles away and have left Australia so no freemantle
when a letters will be sent now is hard to say so must start another lot for Egypt.
The gamblers are still going strong and hundreds of pounds have changed hands the fools
I am saving up for Egypt want to see something for mine
Friday 31 December 1915
about 2500 miles away and bowling along in the indian ocean
our first port is Port Suez & then 90 miles by train to camp but where the lord only knows
The last of the 1915 Kept it up singing old Lang Syne at 12 & throwing the tin ware about & kicking up hell generally, fellows playing nap under my bunk till 2 oclock no sleep
up at ¼ past 5 & into the shower Jany 1st
no work to day church service at 9.30 & washing drill at 2.30
wonder where I shall be this time next year,
about 900 miles in the Indian Ocean North West from Lewin. Beautiful weather & warm.
[List of Morse code symbols. Not transcribed.]
[The left-hand side of this page is a fragment of a page that has been torn out of the diary.]
in Sea Kit
Brushes, shaving, Hair, Tooth,
Cap Comforter, cap dress, drawers, Hat white, Hold all containing Knife, fork, Razor, spoon, Housewife,
Cardigan Jacket, dungarees, shirts spare, singlets, shoes, soap, sox, Towels, & small articles of own use.
[Notes and monetary calculations; the left-hand side has been crossed through. Only part transcribed; see original for details.]
in hand from Jack Cooper £3-10-0
Jany 8th 1/- drawn 1-10-
[Jany] 9 5/- [drawn] 5-0-0 Jany 9/16
Repaid 6/- Jany 9/16
Jany 10th drawn 10/- Bal £4-10-0
[drawn] 10/- Bal 4-0-0
Jany 11th [drawn] Walker 4/- Bal 3-16-0
Jany 13th [drawn] 6/- Bal 3-10-0
[Jany] 19th [drawn] 10/- do 3-0-0
[Jany] 20th [drawn] 60/- do nil
Copper 1 milliens [equals] ¼
Nickel ½ Piastre 1 ¼
[Nickel] 1 [Piastre] 2 ½
Silver 2 [Piastre] 5
[Silver] 5 [Piastre] 1-½
[Silver] 10 [Piastre] 2-1
[Silver] 20 [Piastre] 4.2
Paper 50 [equals] 10.2 ½
[Paper] 100 [equals] £1-0.6
10/- [equals] 48 ¾ Piastre
20/- [equals] 97 ½ [Piastre]
Cab Fares 15 minutes 3 Piastres
[Cab fares] 1 hour 10 [Piastres]
Bargaining Knock off 2/3 of sum asked & you get square deal
[This page gives a list of items and prices, some crossed through. Part not transcribed.]
Tin Enamel Pannikin 9
1 Collapsible do 9
1 Canvas Bucket 1/6
1 Pr Goggles 2/6
1 Elec Torch 3/6
Salt Water Soap 2/0
Tobacco 2/4 1/-
matches 4 ½
cig papers 1/-
[Total] 16/9 ½
Note Paper 6
[Total] 17/6 ½
Fly Veil 6
[Total] 18/- 1/2
[Short list of items and prices, some crossed through. Not transcribed.]
[Two business cards that were tucked inside a pocket at the back of the diary. Not transcribed.]
[Reverse side of the Eaton House business card that is shown on the previous page. Not transcribed.]
Air-sur-la-Lys spelt Ayr
Calais spelt Cailas
Cape Bon, Tunisia, spelt Cape Born
Corbeil-Essonnes spelt Corbeil-Essinn
Epluches spelt Epulches
Flers spelt Fleurs
Fricourt sometimes spelt Friedecourt or Friecourt
Heilly possibly spelt Keilly
Montauban spelt Montabaun
Pantelleria spelt Pontelerie
Rainneville spelt Reinville or Raine Ville]
Meaulne spelt Meaulte [p.90]
Romania spelt Roumania [p.95]
[Transcribed by Barbara Manchester, Barbara Myles, Allanah Jarman for the State Library of New South Wales]